Editorial Comment: The rush is on for braziers

“I’m ready with my donkey jacket, brazier and placards,” says one reader in our online debate on the current local government pay offer.

He’s not alone among social workers, or indeed other public sector professionals. Discontent is widespread – as evidenced by the recent walk-out by prison officers.

In a week when the prime minister is busy justifying the 2% ceiling on public sector pay as an essential anti-inflationary measure, we hear that boardroom pay in leading companies has spiralled by 37%. Their chief executives are earning £2.9m per year on average.

At least council employers have improved their pay offer to 2.475%, including a rise of 3.4% for the lowest paid. The offer was made with unions poised to ballot on strike action over the original 2% offer.

But, let’s not get carried away – it falls well short of the 5% unions were asking for and, after tax, amounts to an extra cup of coffee a day for most social workers.

By the time you read this, we will know whether the unions are recommending the deal to members or intend to push ahead with a strike ballot.

Whatever the decision, it’s clear that we live in a society of growing inequality and the profession’s ability to support those at the poverty-stricken end will be seriously compromised by sub-inflation pay rises.

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Mike Broad

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