GMB Scotland Media Statement: Key Worker Payment Campaign
For immediate release: Thursday 7 May 2020
After the applause, pay up for our key workers
The key worker response to this coronavirus pandemic has shown us what courage looks like. In social care, councils and the NHS, these modern day heroes are doing so much for all of us every day of this crisis.
That’s why every Thursday night you are turning out to applaud and celebrate the efforts and sacrifices they are making, ensuring the elderly and vulnerable are cared for, the sick are treated, bins are emptied, and the kids of our key workers are educated and fed.
But we hope you are also starting to wake-up to the sobering reality that a significant chunk of the frontline response is being delivered on the backs of workers trying to keep their heads above the poverty trap on wages of less than £10 an hour.
It shouldn't have to take the deadliest public health crisis of our time for the scales to drop but now that we are in a horrible situation where service users and staff are dying in our care homes, where nearly forty per cent of all fatalities have taken place, if we can’t act to start valuing workers like carers then when will we?
We need to shake the complacency that’s made government ministers far too relaxed about swathes of workers being paid the living wage, a minimum level of income designed to keep workers just out of poverty and no more. Too many talk of £9.30 an hour in terms of achievement rather than concern and that can’t possibly continue.
Now, more than ever, it is time for government to go beyond the podium praise and social media claps. There needs to be recognition, respect and yes, reward - not one off payments and premiums - but proper and lasting value.
They need to show they really do care for our key workers. The average hourly wage in the UK is nearly £15 an hour, what politician is going to go into an election year and tell these people they are worth less than average after all they’ve done?
That’s why GMB Scotland is campaigning for an immediate uplift of £2 an hour for our frontline heroes for the duration of this crisis, to alleviate the economic pressure that’s been on them for years, and to start a national discussion about the true value of their role in our society.
So tonight, after the applause, let’s agree to pay up for our key workers. It’s the least they deserve.
To find out more about GMB Scotland’s key worker pay campaign and to join the 4,500 and growing list of supporters calling for an immediate £2 an hour uplift to key worker pay, please visit: https://tinyurl.com/yalen3m3
Contact: GMB Scotland’s Key Worker Campaign on 07976 447077.