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TUC 21 TUC: Tax rise ‘double whammy’ and public sector pay freezes will hit working people hardest

THE Tories’ “double whammy” of tax rises and public-sector pay freezes will hit working people the hardest, the TUC’s annual Congress heard today.

Delegates backed an emergency motion calling for the union confederation to campaign against the impending rise in national insurance contributions, supposedly to help support the NHS and overhaul social care after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Coming as many key workers face real-terms pay cuts, the motion – moved by GMB and seconded by train drivers’ union Aslef – demanded Prime Minister Boris Johnson make pandemic profiteers pay their fair share. 

Jobs must be safeguarded against the “wholesale cronyism that has seen highly lucrative contracts awarded to well-connected profiteers who have accumulated wealth to the cost of our communities,” they added.

They cited Tory former prime minister David Cameron’s involvement in the Greensill lobbying scandal as an example of how vested interests have special access to power at the expense of workers. 

The motion called on ministers to publish a transparent report on all public spending during the pandemic as well as fully costed alternative proposals for raising revenue.

Many unions have backed the TUC’s call for an increase in capital gains tax as a fairer, more sustainable alternative. 

The motion also made clear that reintegrating public services — including by ending disguised profits, consultancy contracts, and artificial management fees in the care sector — could be a source of cost-saving revenue. 

GMB’s Linda Mercer slammed the “aggressive and regressive” tax rise as “another kick in the teeth” for workers after more than a decade of Tory austerity.

She said: “This government has shown whose side it’s on. We’re told we live in a meritocracy, where hard work and dedication will be rewarded.

“But it turns out we live in a ‘chumocracy.’ If you [have] the Prime Minister’s Whatsapp, you’ll get what you want.”

And Aslef’s Simon Weller added: “This is not the way to fix the care crisis, but it is the way Johnson and [Chancellor Rishi] Sunak have cynically chosen to put the tax burden on the lower-paid workers and not the wealthy, the landlords, or Tory donors.

“This must change.”

Supporting the motion, Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said “those with the broadest shoulders” should pay their fair share.

She called for fair pay and working conditions for all care staff as part of a new “comprehensive socialised care system.”

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