Britain’s vital public-sector workers are going hungry and without heat. The Tories can’t ignore their pleas anymore
PRISON OFFICERS have been forced to “live like pensioners” and choose between heating and eating — thanks to the public-sector pay cap.
Public-sector workers from a range of professions were joined by TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady yesterday as they demonstrated outside Parliament for a fair pay increase.
Since the Tories took power in 2010, public-sector wage rises have faced a 1 per cent cap, meaning hundreds of thousands of state employees have seen their pay packets plummet by thousands of pounds in real terms — despite Chancellor Philip Hammond brazenly claiming last week they were “overpaid.”
New analysis by the TUC shows that prison officers’ salaries have seen a real-terms cut of up to £5,731.
Bill Buparai, a guard at Belmarsh prison, told the Star: “I’ve had to not put my heating on during the winter.
“In effect, I’m living like a pensioner. I’ve had to change the way I eat … I’ve had to try to eat cheaper, where possible.
“I’ve made changes to the way in which I move, commute — I walk a lot more now. I have to set off a lot earlier, just so I don’t have to pay the extortionate costs associated with general living.”
Hazel Cheung, a dietician based at the Royal Hospital in Liverpool, said: “The cost of living is continuing to rise, especially food and utilities.
“I’m spending a significant amount of my salary on food and utility bills.
“That’s absolutely not something I’ve felt before working for the NHS. If I was to go to the private sector, and even do freelance dietetics, I would be paid significantly more.
“It’s really sad because we really care for patients. We’re also seeing, including myself and another colleague in my department, having to have second jobs.”
The issue of public-sector pay has returned to the spotlight following the courageous role played by public servants following the recent terror attacks and the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower.
Labour recently tabled an amendment to the Queen’s Speech calling for the 1 per cent cap to be lifted — but the proposal was defeated by Conservative and Democratic Unionist Party MPs.
Ms Cheung said it was “absolutely disgusting” that MPs had received year-onyear pay rises while they froze that of front-line public-sector workers.
Mr Buparai added: “We’re doing twice the work we were doing in 2010.
“The work we’re doing is twice as hard, as we’re dealing with a much more dangerous [prison] population.”