‘What would Keir Starmer do differently on public sector pay?’
Wednesday’s mass strike, the biggest in at least a decade, divides opinion over whether industrial action is appropriate in this economic climate.
Some readers are stating that pay rises will raise inflation, while others argue that cuts can be made in other areas to reward those on the public service frontline.
Elsewhere, the flames of the Brexit debate are stoked by the suggestion that it was those in power who ruined the leaving of the EU rather than the act itself.
Read on to see what else people are rallying against.
■ Regarding the 500,000 strikers who brought much of Britain to a standstill on Wednesday in the biggest day of action for at least a decade (Metro, Thu). What do you think will happen if the unions force the government out, which seems to be part of their tactics?
What will Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party do? Give everyone what they want – grab it from their magic money tree? If you think the market reaction was bad under Liz Truss when she was Tory prime minister, imagine how much worse it will be with so much extra money being thrown around. Jim, London
■ TC in London (MetroTalk, Thu) asks ‘where the strikers think the money is going to come from to pay for their pay rises?’ How about it comes from every MP not having have a pay rise for the next few years? Give whatever extortionate rise they would have handed themselves to those strikers who, during the pandemic, were mostly key or essential workers. Anne, London
■ There are a lot of strikes for more pay at the moment. What do retired people do to get more money? The state pension should match the minimum wage, or be close to it. When you retire, you still have the same bills to pay. Retiree, Tyne and Wear
■ As a former lecturer in union history, I recognise what unions have done for the working population over the years but I don’t endorse the belief that they are more important than their members. If members continue to resign at the rate they currently are, there will be no one left to represent. So tread carefully, RMT union leader Mick Lynch, and heed the lessons of the failed dictatorships of history. Alexis, Bristol
■ I am disgusted at all these people who are striking. We’re all having to cope with the aftermath of Covid. The government had to spend millions to get us through it. Plus we have the effects of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Our government is doing a great job. People should help our country get back on its feet, not want everything now. It’s going to take time to get back to where we were before Covid. I worked in the NHS for 25 years and I know nurses are on a good wage. They should save their money instead of going on holidays abroad. They all have cars and fancy phones. Ann Webster, Northumberland
■ In response to Phyllis (MetroTalk, Wed), who says millions of workers in the private sector have no recourse to industrial action. Perhaps private sector workers who are not in a union should join one if they are feeling the squeeze, rather than resent public sector workers who are in one.
Many unionised private sector workers have won improvements through their unions. Perhaps Phyllis would also consider that public sector pay and conditions have lagged behind those in the private sector for years and that it’s this that has provoked the current action. Simon Rix, Leyton
■ I agree with Phyllis – we never hear about the workers who do not have the opportunity to strike and probably earn way less than some on strike. If inflated payrises go ahead, the low-paid will have even less. More food banks and poverty on the way. Wilma, by email
■ I am 100 per cent against all these strikes. They make no impact at all, apart from inconveniencing the lives of fellow workers, and they are politically motivated. The sooner the government introduces a ban on them, the better. Matt, London
■ ‘Millions of workers have no recourse to industrial action and in most cases no prospect of pay rises anywhere close to those demanded, particularly by public sector workers’, says Phyllis. I wonder what she would make of the recent report that private sector wages grew at more than double the rate of public sector pay in late 2022. Anita Chandler, London
■ Some people think emergency services workers should be allowed to strike, some don’t. I have a suggestion to stop strikes by emergency workers, namely all hospital workers – nurses, doctors, ambulance workers, paramedics – firefighters, police and care home workers. It would be that the government agreed to increase their salaries under the triple-lock guarantee, as awarded to pensioners, in return for a pact never to strike.
Under the triple-lock, the pension is supposed to increase each year in line with whichever is the highest out of inflation, the average increase in wages across the UK, or 2.5 per cent. Craig Duncan, by email
‘Brexit didn’t break the UK – the fools in charge did’
■ To Mark from Surrey (MetroTalk, Thu) who says Brexit has broken Britain. It wasn’t leaving the EU that was the problem – it’s the ridiculous people in charge of the UK government and the EU who can’t seem to be adults and streamline trade arrangements. Barb, Bristol
■ Mark from Surrey is yet another anti-Brexit, anti-Tory voter under the false impression that Brexit was created by the Tories. The Tories did hold the referendum, because they expected the result to be Remain, and many Tories voted that way. However, it was voted on democratically by the UK population and the majority said Leave.
The Tories then put through what the population had specifically voted for them to do. I wonder what people would have said if they hadn’t? You may not like either the Tories or Brexit, but they are not the same thing.
As for Al from Charlton (MetroTalk, Thu), people voted for Brexit to have more independence – and, yes, we do have legal control of our borders now. However, what legislation can never guarantee is to stop others trying to bypass immigration and sneak in by sea. Paul, London
■ Marking Tuesday’s anniversary of the Brexit debacle, an architect of this mess – the financially inept former prime minister Boris Johnson – insulted the electorate with accusations of ‘gloom-mongering’. He claimed the ‘opportunities are huge’. However, if after three years the world-class business community of this country is unable to identify and thrive on them, they simply don’t exist. Robert, London
‘Oh, come on! Beano is no menace to kids’ health’
■ The Beano’s Dennis the Menace and Bash Street Kids have been called ‘irresponsible’ for promoting junk food to children (Metro, Thu).The comic’s website, billed as a ‘100 per cent safe’ digital hub for six- to 12-year-olds, has been urged to drop online quizzes about fast food, sweets and fizzy drinks. Rubbish.
The obesity epidemic isn’t about a website having quizzes about logos for Greggs and Nando’s when there are hundreds of such apps on mobile phones. It’s due to the cost-of-living crisis making fresh fruit much more expensive than frozen sausages and not enough resources for those on the breadline. Health officials will make anything a scapegoat rather than point the finger at the government and the fact there isn’t enough funding to ensure children get a healthy diet. Mark, Birmingham
■ I’m 73 and amazed how I ever got this far. I have eaten just about everything, including junk food. Let the youth have their day in the sun like we did. John, Greater Manchester
And another thing…
■ Regarding the comment by Debbie Ellison (MetroTalk, Wed) on the ignominy of having to send pictures of medical conditions to doctors, rather than seeing them face-to-face. I experienced the same when I was asked by my surgery to send a photograph of the mole I had under my left breast. What if the photos get into wrong hands, or the systems are hacked? Mimi, London
■ The owners of luxury flats overlooked by Tate Modern’s viewing platform won their court privacy battle (Metro, Thu). This decision is ridiculous. The owners should have been aware of what they were buying – and where. If people don’t want to feel like a goldfish, perhaps they shouldn’t live in a property built like a goldfish bowl. Billy, Bristol
■ The owner of the Slug & Lettuce and Be At One pub chains is looking to sell off 1,000 sites to help pay a £2.6billion debt (Metro, Thu). If Stonegate, owned by private equity firm TDR Capital, wants to save money, it should turn off the electric fires outside its pubs when no one is sitting outside. Some people can’t afford to heat their homes yet pubs are wasting energy. Andrew Lewis, by email
■ Does anyone know why people sit on the backrest of park benches with their feet on the seat? Whatever is on their shoes might come off on the seat for the next sitter to sit on. Roger, London
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