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Jeremy Corbyn called on trade unions to support the most vulnerable working people when he spoke at their annual congress.

Isn’t it interesting, how Tory promises – such as their claim to be ending the one-per-cent pay cap on public sector workers’ wages – seem worthwhile when first announced and then turn into the verbal equivalent of a steaming pile of horse manure when you get into the detail?

That’s certainly the case here, and prison officers are right to reject the derisory, below-inflation pay offer being flung at them by the minority Conservative government.

It is still – effectively – a pay cut! Why would anybody in their right mind accept that, when the Tories and their donors are funnelling enormous above-inflation pay rises into their offshore bank accounts, or wherever they stash the cash?

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn condemned what he called the “epidemic” of low pay in his speech to the TUC Congress.

He said: “This epidemic of low pay, which is closely tied up with insecurity at work, ruins people’s lives, leaving workers and their families locked in poverty. It damages the economy as people have less to spend. It costs us all because it means more paid in tax credits and housing benefit from the public purse and it means less tax being paid to fund public services.”

He praised unions that have tackled low-paying employers, such as Unite with SportsDirect and the Bakers’ Union with McDonald’s, whose boss is paid 1,300 times more than the lowest-paid of his staff.

Mr Corbyn said: “Theresa May could not bring herself to utter one word of condemnation of McDonald’s or SportsDirect. This from the Prime Minister who tried to rebrand the Conservatives as the ‘workers’ party’. No, I didn’t buy it either.”

And neither should the rest of us.

The Tories have a chance to make their promise matter today (September 13), when the Commons will vote on a Labour demand for the one-per-cent pay cap to be lifted and for public sector workers to be properly recompensed for the work they do.

If the organisation that wants to call itself the “Party of the Workers” can’t bring itself to support the motion – or fails to act on it if it is passed – then the UK will come one step closer to the general strike This Writer suggested earlier this week.

It won’t actually be a general strike in the sense of being called by a single person or organisation and all unionised workers striking; Mark Serwotka, leader of the PCS union, explained on the BBC’s Daily Politics yesterday that unions could simply co-ordinate individual strikes to happen on the same dates, to much the same effect.

Of course, some may question the amount of good that may be done by a strike, and it’s a fair point. But then, how much good will be done by Parliament voting us into an effective dictatorship by a minority government, as has already happened this week?

Jeremy Corbyn has backed the prison officers’ union’s decision to reject the government’s ‘pathetic’ pay rise offer.

Number 10 today announced they were to break the 1% pay cap on public sector increases, offering prison officers a 1.7% increase. Police officers will be offered a 1% increase with a further 1% bonus for the year.

The Prison Officers Association (POA) today said any below-inflation pay offer would be rejected because their officers play a “vital role in keeping society safe”.

And TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said “this below-inflation pay offer is pathetic”.

Read more: Jeremy Corbyn backs prison officers union’s decision to reject ‘pathetic’ pay offer


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