Financial Reward for Government Workers and Key Workers Debate

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Department: HM Treasury

Financial Reward for Government Workers and Key Workers

Bambos Charalambous Excerpts
Monday 14th December 2020

(3 years, 4 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Bambos Charalambous Portrait Bambos Charalambous (Enfield, Southgate) (Lab)
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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairship, Mr Stringer. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Gower (Tonia Antoniazzi) for her excellent speech when opening the debate. In fact, all the speeches that we have heard so far have been outstanding, and I associate myself with all of them.

I want to begin by thanking the 353 constituents of Enfield, Southgate who have signed the two petitions that have led to today’s Westminster Hall debate. I thank our public sector workers, who have provided such an incredible public service in our hospitals and social care sector, our local councils, our communities, our schools, our courts and prisons across the whole justice sector, and our jobcentres. I also thank all those working in the emergency services in every public sector that I have not had time to mention. These have been incredibly strange circumstances, and if it was not for their stepping up to help, we would have been in a much worse situation.

From speaking to public sector workers, I know that working in the sector is a vocation for many people, and they have a real desire to serve. That is despite a decade of cuts and austerity and the huge pressures that have been placed on people just doing their everyday job. I want to explode the myth that public sector workers are paid far more than private sector workers.  That is simply not true. According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, after years and years of below inflation pay rises and pay freezes, public sector workers earn 3% less than private sector workers. We need to make sure that that is not forgotten. Rather than reward all public sector workers for their hard work, the Government have chosen to divide and rule, and give some public sector workers a pay rise while giving a slap in the face to others. That is clearly unacceptable.

The Government do not realise the huge amount of good will that public sector workers provide in doing their jobs under the most trying circumstances. Before becoming a Member of Parliament, I worked in local government, with some extraordinary people who would often go far beyond the call of duty, just to get the job done. That was after years of cuts, not only in staffing levels that made their work extremely hard but in resources as well.

In my borough of Enfield, I helped volunteers to deliver food parcels at the start of the pandemic. That was arranged and organised by Enfield Council’s amazing staff, who were not just doing their everyday job. They were seconded to do this as an additional job, to make sure that people who were in dire need got the food that they needed. It was an incredible achievement and they showed that they were stepping up to do that. I ask in all honesty, how can the Government justify not giving these public sector workers a pay increase? When the chips were down, our public sector workers did what they had to do to get us through this. It is only right and proper that they get the reward that they deserve, and not an appalling snub from the Government.