Union chief visits Hartlepool to demand better pay for workers

TUC launch fair pay camaign across Teeside.
from left UNISON Regional Secretary Clare Williams, TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady and TUC Regional Secretary Beth Farhat
TUC launch fair pay camaign across Teeside. from left UNISON Regional Secretary Clare Williams, TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady and TUC Regional Secretary Beth Farhat

A senior union official was in Hartlepool to launch a new poster campaign calling for workers to be given a pay rise.

Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), chose the town to launch the campaign in the North East.

The TUC says workers in the North East are £400 a year worse off in real terms than they were before the financial crash of 2008.

Ms O’Grady said: “We are going around the country but we are here because we know this area needs investment in good jobs.

“I think Hartlepool is a place that a lot of working people know the root of this problem is simply that not enough good jobs are being generated.

“We are hoping we can make this a big issue in the election campaign.

“We want to hear from politicians exactly what they are going to do to create those good jobs before people cast their vote.

“Public sector workers have been facing pay cuts for over six years; firefighters, midwives.

“It’s not right and people know it.”

Ms O’Grady said too many new jobs created were casual or on zero hour contracts that are low paid and do not give workers security they need to plan for the future.

The TUC estimates 124,000 people in the region work in insecure jobs compared to 84,000 in 2011.

She was joined by representatives from a host of unions at the event on Marina Way including Unison, the Royal College of Midwives and teaching unions.

Jo Potts, a lecturer at Hartlepool College of Further Education and member of the University and College Union, said: “Under successive governments since the Coalition and Tory government, there has been no real terms pay rises and staff are really beginning to feel the pinch.”

Jo said the pay situation was affecting people’s ability to get on the housing ladder and starting families.

She added: “It’s not just about pay. Further education funding has been slashed.

“Colleges are coming under increasing pressure to rationalise courses to make ends meet, and means we are simply not able to offer a community-based service that we once could and want to.”

Clare Williams, the regional secretary of the union Unison, also lent her support to the campaign.

She said: “Pay rises aren’t keeping up with the cost of living.

“What we know from Unison is a lot of public sector workers, including nurses, are having to go to foodbanks because wages aren’t enough.”

A large poster designed for the campaign was driven around Hartlepool on the back of a trailer before visiting Redcar, Stockton, Middlesbrough and Durham.