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Key workers and their trade unions are calling on the government to boost key worker pay in both the public and private sector after a year in which nurses, shop workers and carers have kept the nation going during the pandemic.

Many key workers have seen their wages effectively frozen due to inflation, with many struggling while self-isolating following a positive Covid test due to a complicated and underfunded system of self-isolation payments and a lack of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

I wanted to meet with my Member of Parliament to make sure they are doing right by every key worker who has kept the country going. The government have made things happen overnight to fight this pandemic. I’ve seen many ministers on the TV clapping in support of key workers, now its time for them to turn those claps into real action.

Hannah a Unison member, who is a key worker in Blyth

Local key workers are working with their unions to get in touch with their Members of Parliament to discuss public and private sector key worker pay in a campaign coordinated by the Northern Public Service Alliance (PSA) and the TUC.

Key worker lobbies took place with MP’s from Blyth Valley, Darlington and Sedgefield. With Members of Parliament in Stockton South and North West Durham refusing repeated invitations to engage with trade unions and key workers.

Trade unions are calling for the government to:

  • Boost the minimum wage to at least £10 per hour for all workers.
  • Give meaningful pay rises to over 4 million public sector key workers.
  • Ban zero-hours contracts which particularly affect key workers in health and social care, and wholesale and retail.

Key workers have quite literally kept the lights on and watched over us as we battled the pandemic, the least the government can do is address the appalling levels of low pay many of them face in both the public and private sector. Many of them are simply struggling to make ends meet in the current climate.

We’ve met with several Conservative MP’s from across the region who have told us they will be prepared to lobby the Chancellor on key worker pay despite refusing to sign our open letter. We will be keeping a close on those commitments to see if help boost key worker pay.

Clare Williams, Chair of the PSA and Unison Regional Secretary
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