COLUMN: Public sector pay cap is ‘shameful’

MP Gloria De Piero
MP Gloria De Piero

Many of you will know that one of the causes I have been fighting for is a better pension deal for former miners and their widows.

The injustice of the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme has seen the government pocket around £10billion thanks to a surplus sharing arrangement put in place when the government became the scheme’s guarantor.

This arrangement means any surplus cash that the pension investments make is split 50/50 between the government and the miners.

I have raised this issue time and again in Parliament because it is not fair that so much money the miners worked for and invested goes straight into government coffers while many miners struggle to make ends meet.

Last week I stood up in the Commons and asked for a Parliamentary debate to take place to put more pressure on the government to do the right thing and give our ex-miners and their widows the pensions they deserve. I will not give up the fight until I get justice.

Too many people in Ashfield are stuck in low paid employment, with new figures from the House of Commons library showing that median weekly earnings for full-time employees living in Ashfield constituency were £450 in April 2016.

This compares to £500 for the East Midlands region and £540 for the UK as a whole. An estimated 23 per cent of employee jobs in Ashfield - around 11,000 employees - were paid below the Living Wage in April 2016. This is just not good enough and too many people are finding their wages are not stretching as far as they need to.

Hard-working public sector workers – be they people who work in the NHS, teachers and teaching assistants or our police officers and firefighters – are in this boat. They have had their pay increases capped at one per cent for seven years by the Tories which, due to inflation, is effectively a pay cut running into thousands of pounds.

The Tories and DUP disgracefully voted down a Labour amendment to the Queen’s Speech in Parliament last week, which called for an end to the one per cent cap. What a way to show gratitude for the invaluable work these employees do. The Government should hang its head in shame.