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A third of public sector workers are set to quit over low pay, says TUC

Pittance: key workers have put up with pathetic pay rises – if their pay can be said to have risen at all – for far too long and are ready to quit because of it.

Around one third of key workers in the public sector (32%) have already taken steps to leave their profession to get a job in another field or are actively considering it, according to new TUC polling published today.

According to TUC analysis, that means around 1.8 million public sector workers are seriously thinking about quitting their jobs for good.

In both education and health and social work, the proportion of key workers who have taken steps to leave or are actively considering it is around the same, at about a third of the workforce (34% in education and 31% in health).

The new TUC polling, conducted by YouGov, comes as the union body warns ministers that public services are facing a “mass exodus” of key workers unless ministers deliver “decent pay rises” for key workers.

The government imposed significant real terms pay cuts on key workers in the public sector earlier this year, sparking a wave of ballots for industrial action across education, health and local government this autumn and winter.

Unison, RCM, NASUWT and NEU started balloting their members this week.

Pushed to the brink by low pay

The government’s decision to hold down pay for key workers in the public sector is worsening the public sector recruitment and retention crisis, according to the TUC – highlighting the new poll findings.

Almost half (45%) of key workers in the public sector say the government approach on pay has made them more likely to leave their job in the next one to three years.

For workers in health and social care, the number rises to 50%.

Of those that say they have taken steps to leave or are considering leaving, around half cite low pay (52%).

Feeling undervalued (47%), a poor work life balance (33%) and excessive workloads (31%) are also major factors.

Latest data shows that NHS England is operating short of almost 130,000 staff due to unfilled vacancies. This represents a vacancy rate of 9.7 per cent.

In the education sector, one in eight newly qualified teachers (NQTs) leave the profession after one year in the job, with almost one-third of NQTs (31%) leaving within their first five years.

The union body says that these unfilled vacancies, on top of a decade of underfunding, has left public services “cut down to the bone” – placing huge amounts of pressure on public sector workers.

Brutal decade of pay cuts

The union body says key workers across the NHS face another year of “pay misery” after more than a decade of having their wages held down by successive Conservative governments.

Recent TUC analysis shows that many frontline staff in the NHS will see their pay packets shrink this year in real terms:

  • Nurses’ real pay will be down by over £1,100 this year
  • Paramedics’ real pay will be down by over £1,500 this year
  • Hospital porters’ real pay will be down by £200 this year
  • Maternity care assistants’ real pay will be down by £600 this year

The TUC says that this year’s pay cuts come on top of a brutal decade of pay cuts for key workers in the public sector.

Recent analysis by the union body shows that in real terms:

  • Nurses’ real pay is still down £4,300 compared to 2010
  • Paramedics’ real pay is still down by £5,600 compared to 2010
  • Porters’ real pay is still down by £1,300 compared to 2010
  • Maternity care assistants’ real pay is still down by £3,200 compared to 2010

In the education sector, teachers have already lost around a fifth of the value of their pay due to government pay cuts between 2010 and 2021, according to the NEU.

The real term pay cuts imposed this year will see the majority of teachers’ pay worth 25% less than it was in 2010, according to NASUWT analysis.

NAHT analysis suggests school leaders’ pay is down 24%’ since 2010.

Support urgently needed for key workers

The TUC is calling on the government to urgently prioritise key worker pay and public services funding in their fiscal event on 17 November.

The union body says ministers must:

  • Give key workers in the public sector cost-of-living proofed pay rises
  • Raise the minimum wage to £15 an hour as soon as possible
  • Invest in public services – reversing the impact of rising inflation and ensuring the spending measures set out in the 2021 comprehensive spending review are not only delivered but improved upon

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“Key workers in the public sector helped get the country through the pandemic.

“But many are now at breaking point because of a toxic mix of low pay, unsustainable workloads and a serious lack of recognition.

“After years of brutal pay cuts, nurses, teachers, refuse workers and millions of other public servants have seen their living standards decimated – and now face more pay misery.

“It is little wonder morale is through the floor and many key workers are considering leaving their jobs for good.

On the prospect of industrial action, Frances added:

“If there is large-scale public sector strike action over the months ahead, the government only has itself to blame.

“They have chosen to hold down public servants’ pay while giving bankers unlimited bonuses.

“Ministers must change course. Without decent pay rises for key workers in the public sector, we face a mass exodus of staff.

“And it would be bad for our economy. As the country teeters on the brink of recession, the last thing we need is working people cutting back on spending even more.

“More money in the pockets of working people means more spend on our high streets.

“Enough is enough. It’s time to give our key workers in the public sector the decent pay rise they are owed.”

Source: Around 1 in 3 key workers in the public sector have taken steps to leave their profession or are actively considering it | TUC

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Is the Conservative Party imploding because of Sunak’s leadership victory?

[Image: The Agitator/Twitter].

The law of unforeseen consequences seems to be striking the Conservative Party hard.

Rishi Sunak has been elected unopposed as party leader, and is soon to be invited to be prime minister by King Charles III. We know that.

Some of us suspect that this was a result of behind-the-scenes shenanigans. Boris Johnson withdrew, despite having enough nominations (more on that elsewhere, possibly). And Penny Mordaunt may feel justifiably robbed of the nominations from Tory MPs who supported Johnson instead of her (while they may feel cheated out of having him on the ballot paper).

But it seems that nobody feels quite as scorned by the process as the Conservative Party membership – the rank-and-file members without whom the organisation cannot function.

It seems many of them are so incensed by the way they have been treated – cheated, maybe, out of electing a new leader – that they are pulling up their stumps and leaving, with former Brexit party Reform UK as their likely new home.

(Interesting, that. Has the dog-wagging tail of the Tory Party been a single-issue group all along?)

On Twitter, the outrage has been palpable:

It seems veteran broadcaster Alastair Stewart is right – Tory Party members can think for themselves – although that thinking seems to extend only as far as the nearest Brexiteering right-wing party.

That should sink both the Tories and Reform UK.

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Boris Johnson drops out of Tory leadership contest – have there been shenanigans?

Boris Johnson: he’s out of the Tory leadership contest.

Does this count as the first time multiple philanderer Boris Johnson has ever withdrawn from anything?

And he doesn’t even have a good reason!

He has pulled out of the Conservative Party leadership election, despite claiming to have 102 nominations, which puts him beyond the number needed (although the BBC had been keeping its own count – and believed he had only 55).

According to the BBC, he has said:

“In the last few days I have been overwhelmed by the number of people who suggested that I should once again contest the Conservative Party leadership, both among the public and among friends and colleagues in Parliament.

“I have been attracted because I led our party into a massive election victory less than three years ago – and I believe I am therefore uniquely placed to avert a general election now.

“A general election would be a further disastrous distraction just when the Government must focus on the economic pressures faced by families across the country.

“I believe I am well placed to deliver a Conservative victory in 2024 – and tonight I can confirm that I have cleared the very high hurdle of 102 nominations, including a proposer and a seconder, and I could put my nomination in tomorrow.”

“There is a very good chance that I would be successful in the election with Conservative Party members – and that I could indeed be back in Downing Street on Friday.

“But in the course of the last days I have sadly come to the conclusion that this would simply not be the right thing to do. You can’t govern effectively unless you have a united party in parliament.

“And though I have reached out to both Rishi (Sunak) and Penny (Mordaunt) – because I hoped that we could come together in the national interest – we have sadly not been able to work out a way of doing this.

“Therefore I am afraid the best thing is that I do not allow my nomination to go forward and commit my support to whoever succeeds.

“I believe I have much to offer but I am afraid that this is simply not the right time.”

Do you believe any of that?

I have sadly come to the conclusion that this would simply not be the right thing to do“?

When was Boris Johnson ever interested in the right thing to do?

Perhaps the next line provides more light:

You can’t govern effectively unless you have a united party in parliament.”

I don’t know what you think, but doesn’t it seem as though someone has had a word?

It ties in with what Russ Jones was telling us a few days ago – that the Conservative Party is a coalition of several warring factions, and leaders have only managed to succeed by uniting several of them behind their banner.

And it could also be an excuse.

It has also been suggested that, while Johnson would be an extremely popular choice among Conservative members, he would be electorally catastrophic for the party with most voters unwilling to forgive and forget the transgressions of his original period as prime minister – irrespective of whether MPs would unite behind him.

Also, with his withdrawal, does this leave the way clear for a Rishi Sunak coronation – as Penny Mordaunt has too few nominations to pass the threshold for participation?

Could one possibly argue that Johnson was brought in simply to take votes away from any other serious candidate, to ensure they could not progress through the process and, thereby, to deprive Conservative Party members of their democratic choice?

That would be a blow for the party faithful – especially as Johnson was their preferred choice. If he really does think he might “deliver” a Tory victory in 2024, he might have scuppered his own chances by betraying his home constituency.

So, what’s next?

Should we look out for an announcement that Sunak will be the next Tory leader and prime minister at some time on Monday (October 24)?

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Therese Coffey: more reasons to despise the Tories

Take a look at this:

At a time when the National Health Service is in dire need of more nursing staff – but can’t recruit them because pay is too low and working conditions too poor – the government minister responsible for sorting out these problems is telling nurses to work elsewhere if they want to go on strike.

Therese Coffey may well be, as Maximilien Robespierre suggests, not only the most horrible person in the Conservative government but also the nastiest person in the UK, of any kind at all.

And that’s a high bar to clear!

Meanwhile, and in contrast, the Scottish Health Minister seems to be preparing to offering nurses there higher pay.

Coffey demonstrates no empathy for people in the UK. How did she ever manage to get elected? What did voters in Suffolk Coastal think they were getting?

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It seems Boris Johnson can’t stop lying – even about when he’s leaving office

Speak no evil: but Boris Johnson doesn’t seem capable of holding his mouth shut.

Claims from Downing Street that Boris Johnson will remain prime minister until October are not true, it seems.

The timings of a successor’s election are managed by the backbench 1922 Committee and the Conservative Party Board, and Johnson has no power over them.

Also, when he discussed the prime minister’s resignation with him, 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady did not make any agreement that Johnson could remain in Downing Street until October.

The 1922 Committee controls the first part of the process – whittling the number of candidates down to two – and this could be completed as soon as July 21, when Parliament goes into recess for the summer.

Then the Tory Party Board takes over to put these candidates to a vote of party members – and this could be carried out by the end of August.

Meanwhile, there is a loud – and growing – demand for Johnson to leave immediately, with a “caretaker” PM installed for the duration of the leadership contest.

Considering the apparent falsehoods being put about by Johnson and his team, even about his departure, this should come as no surprise to anybody.

Source: 1922 Committee chief never agreed that Boris Johnson could stay until October

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‘Stop talking,’ Johnson is told. Are the media finally saying his time is up?

Boris Johnson: it seems we all think it’s time for him to go.

It’s looking that way, isn’t it?

After a slew of car-crash media interviews since the start of the Tory conference, here’s one that I missed – but that illustrates Richard Murphy’s point very well:

In a Today programme interview, Nick Robinson – himself a staunch Conservative – told Boris Johnson to “stop talking”:

The Prime Minister was interrupted by Today programme presenter Nick Robinson as he answered questions about the acute shortage of lorry drivers driving the fuel crisis

The discussion turned tense when Mr Johnson gave a rambling answer about HGV drivers.

BBC Presenter Nick Robinson tried to interrupt the PM when he was arguing that the shortage of lorry drivers was due to failure to encourage workers to sign up for the job.

Mr Robinson: “You have made that point very clearly and I’m going to…

“Prime Minister – stop talking. We are going to have questions and answers, not where you merely talk, if you wouldn’t mind.”

At the end of the interview, Johnson sulked:

“It’s very kind of you to let me talk, I thought that was the point of inviting me on your show, but anyway, lovely to see you.”

Johnson has been the Establishment’s useful idiot for more than five years, pushing Brexit down our collective throats and delivering a landslide election victory for the Conservatives.

But he is a fool. His failure to cope with Covid-19 is the clearest possible indicator of that.

The sharks among his fellow Tories are smelling blood in the water. Rishi Sunak has already auditioned for the prime minister’s job in his own conference speech.

How long must we wait until Johnson falls?

Source: BBC presenter orders Boris Johnson to ‘stop talking’ in fraught interview clash – Mirror Online

Starmer in denial as Labour take local election pummelling. HE is the problem

The excuses man: but no amount of references to Jeremy Corbyn can save Keir Starmer from the condemnation of traditional Labour supporters who have been forced to walk away from the party by him.

Before I start, let’s be clear about one thing:

That being said…

Keir Starmer has vowed to lead Labour’s fightback after having led it to a bitter local election pummelling and the loss of one of the party’s Parliamentary strongholds.

The denial is strong in this one.

It is clear to even the most disinterested observer that the party’s losses are all Starmer’s fault; that his direction for the Labour Party is deeply unpopular with the British people and that the best way he can help Labour fight back is to resign.

But he won’t do that. Instead, he’ll be announcing a “bold vision” for the party in the next few days.

That will be – what? His third “bold vision”? His fourth? – since he deceived party members into making him leader last year.

By the time of writing, StarmerLabour has lost 192 council seats, with the bulk going to the Conservatives.

The Green Party has picked up 51 seats, indicating that left-wing voters have migrated to that party in protest against Starmer’s betrayal of traditional Labour values. And the Liberal Democrats have also lost seats – 24 of them – indicating that the public has still – and rightly – not forgiven them for propping up the Tories for five years, from 2010 to 2015. These are about the only things the English voting public has got right.

In terms of council control, the Conservatives have taken Pendle, Maidstone, Cornwall, Nottinghamshire, Basildon, Northumberland, Dudley, and Nuneaton and Bedworth councils from no overall control. They also took control of of Harlow council, in Essex, from Labour.

Labour has lost Sheffield, Plymouth and Rossendale to no overall control.

And in another former Labour stronghold, the Tees Valley, Conservative Ben Houchen was re-elected mayor with 73 per cent of the vote – a massive swing of 23 per cent away from Starmer’s Labour.

Meanwhile, here in Wales, Mark Drakeford’s version of Labour – which many have said is a genuine continuation of Corbynism – has won 30 seats in the Senedd, securing another working majority. Labour will rule in Wales for another five years.

The contrast with StarmerLabour could not be more plain.

For This Writer, the most surprising aspect of StarmerLabour’s implosion is the way his critics are pussyfooting around him, playing down the scale of the disaster.

Look at left Labour MP Richard Burgon’s comment, quoted in the following tweet – and the response by Jen Wood:

Let’s not bother with the ‘soft’ critics. Starmer doesn’t need to hear people saying “Never mind, Keir. You stay put and next time you’ll do better.” At this point, such a possibility seems unlikely in the extreme; Labour is more likely to run out of votes altogether and be extinguished as a political movement.

He needs to hear the hard criticism – like this, from Peston:

And this, from near-legendary Canary columnist Steve Topple:

Even this is charitable; voters didn’t abandon Labour because they don’t care – they walked away because they do, and because Starmer wasn’t offering them anything they could support.

You want proof?

So that’s that. These people aren’t going to come back to Labour while Starmer remains in charge of what was once their party.

The message of the 2021 local elections is clear, then. For those who are still having trouble grasping it, it is this:

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Is this yet another example of Tory racism?

The Tories said that EU nationals would be encouraged to apply for “settled status” rather than being forced to leave the UK after Brexit.

That’s what they said.

But they have put obstacle after obstacle in the way – barriers to application and delays in Home Office decision-making being significant factors in pushing vulnerable EU citizens out.

And from January 1, EU citizens were quietly added to the Tory government’s voluntary returns scheme, offering them paid flights and £2,000 resettlement money to get them to leave of their own accord.

It seems clear that Tory policy hasn’t moved an inch since Theresa May was attacked so bitterly for sending advertising vans around London telling people from foreign countries to “go home”.

Worst of all, this is cutting our collective nose off to spite our face.

The UK relies on EU migrants to do a lot of important work. Without them – especially in the Covid crisis – we’ll struggle.

Either the Tories haven’t thought about that or – more likely, considering the Covid death toll – they simply don’t care.

Source: EU citizens offered financial incentives to leave UK | Brexit | The Guardian

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Cummings is out of Downing Street – but what does it actually mean?

Cummings and Boris Johnson: I never really bothered to do another image of him and now I’m glad I didn’t; he’s gone. But how far has he gone?

Many will be saying Boris Johnson will have to take responsibility for his own cock-ups from now on – but will he?

Johnson has had the benefit of a lot of media belief that he’s the monkey to Dominic Cummings’s organ grinder, ever since he moved into Downing Street in July 2019.

Now, with Cummings moving out of Downing Street “to clear the air”, he won’t have that excuse – even if it is still applicable.

You see, Cummings may have left his official role but this just means we don’t know what he will be doing, who he’ll be doing it with, or how much influence he may continue to wield.

And it is entirely possible, of course, that the whole story about Cummings being the secret mastermind was just a blind, and the Johnson government will continue self-combusting, as it has been ever since that fateful July 2019 day.

Time will tell.

But it seems clear that the future under Johnson’s Tories holds just two possibilities:

  • Life in the UK will stay as bad as it is now.
  • Life in the UK will get much, much worse.

For now I think it is okay to sympathise with all those who are celebrating with a few choruses of “The witch is dead”…

But I think we have to temper that sympathy with a clear understanding that the UK is not out of the woods yet – by a very long way.

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Refugee woman found dead by malnourished baby after UK asylum system left her to starve

 

Would people be so keen to cross the channel to the UK in dinghies if they knew the Tory government is likely to leave them to starve?

It seems our asylum system’s problems are twofold: getting into the UK is one part and the other is the way people are treated once they are here.

Mercy Baguma, originally from Uganda, was discovered by police in a Glasgow flat on August 22, after friends said she had not been seen since the previous Tuesday.

Her malnourished baby boy was found next to her. He was rushed to hospital for treatment and is now with his father.

Ms Baguma, aged in her 30s, had lost her job after her leave to remain expired, meaning she was no longer allowed to work.

She had contacted the charity Positive Action in Housing after making an application for aid to MigrantHelp.

Robina Qureshi, Director of Positive Action in Housing said she would have been a high priority for a crisis payment – had she lived:

“The fact is there is no safety net if you’re a refugee or migrant. You are left destitute and without resources. And you’re left silenced by far right rhetoric for being forced to ask for help.

“Would this mother be alive if she was not forced out of her job by this cruel system that stops you from working and paying your way because a piece of paper says your leave to remain has expired? I’m sure Mercy’s son will want to ask this and other questions once he is old enough.”

Clearly there is more to this story. We don’t know why the government decided Ms Baguma should not have leave to remain in the UK any more or what was being done about it.

But the evidence we have is clear: she died, and her son nearly starved to death too, because our Tory asylum system said they should.

Source: Mum found dead beside malnourished baby in Glasgow flat – Glasgow Live

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