Toggle high contrast
Issue date
This Christmas will be different than any in recent memory for many of us, I am probably not the only person spending time apart from members of my family this year to halt the spread of Covid-19.

Yet for thousands of key workers particularly in the public sector Christmas has always been a time when they must work protecting us and caring for the most vulnerable.

This year key workers have supported the entire nation and cared for thousands while facing shortages of Personal Protective Equipment, long hours, low pay, shoddy health, and safety standards in warehouses. And just occasionally abuse from members of the public.

In May of this year the Bishop of Durham spoke out publicly calling for urgent Personal Protective Equipment for front line workers. Due to decades of privatisation many of the supply chains which could have underpinned a public response to the pandemic have been fragmented leading to shortages and higher prices compared to our European neighbours.

Let’s be honest as well with our selves, after this year more frozen pay for key workers isn’t just morally wrong but economically unsound. For instance it was striking that halfway through the first lock down government ministers were speaking off the record about how they had never considered workers stacking shelves or looking after the most vulnerable as important to the national well being until the pandemic struck.

They now have an opportunity to right a decade of austerity and build upon genuine public good will to give key workers a pay rise. Lifting the minimum wage to at least the real living wage and ending the public sector pay freeze would be a good start.

Every year in this column I try to make sure workers get at least some small praise for the vital work they have done and will do over Christmas.

This year they have quite literally kept the lights on and stood watch over thousands of us as we battled this virus.

Beth Farhat, Secretary Northern TUC

From all of us across the trade union movement I would like to say a deep and heartfelt thank you for the risks you have taken and the dignity with which you have conducted yourselves. Right now you deserve more than a claps or a badge but a real commitment to pay you a real living wage and an end to unjustifiable pay freezes.

Our country needs to have a long think after this year and ask itself an important question. Should we measure things solely by their cost or by their value?

From myself and every person at TUC Northern, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Beth Farhat, Secretary Northern TUC
Enable Two-Factor Authentication

To access the admin area, you will need to setup two-factor authentication (TFA).

Setup now