Government must support public services, say unions

The Trades Union Congress has launched a new campaign highlighting how public services cannot continue with the cuts, underfunding and decline that’s been commonplace for the past decade.

The No Going Back to Normal campaign shows that while returning to ‘normal’ after coronavirus may be a welcome step for many people, it’s anything but positive for public services and the staff running them.

For public service staff, UNISON argues that returning to ‘normal’ would mean going back to a culture of long hours, low pay, high levels of stress and poor morale. The union says that what is needed instead is to get the country back on its feet, and value and invest in the people who’ve been keeping everyone safe, cared for and vital services running.

Dave Prentis, UNISON general secretary, said: “The UK depends on key workers to keep public services running and everyone protected. But it’s taken a pandemic for their worth to be properly recognised. Some even owe their lives to frontline staff who’ve tragically died protecting others.

“Everyone is desperate to get back to normal. However, ‘normal’ cannot mean a return to low pay, penny-pinching and public services staff being under-valued. For too long, this has been the reality for those providing vital amenities including health and social care, policing, education and local government. The government must invest properly in public services and respect workers by paying them fairly and keeping them safe. It must reverse a decade of neglect – and start right now.”