Supporting Barnsley Needs a Pay Rise
Posted by Natalie Bennett on 1st May 2017
On Saturday morning I took a short break from campaigning to jump on the train to Barnsley for an (early) May Day march and rally launching the Barnsley Needs A Pay Rise campaign.
It's building on the growing strength of the Sheffield Needs A Pay Rise campaign, whose rally I spoke at last year. (You might call it South Yorkshire Needs a Pay Rise, which it certainly does, but lacks a certain catchiness.)
It was a reminder of just how fun and uplifting it is to march behind a brass band, this being Unite the Union's, and I marched with the Barnsley Green Party contingent before speaking outside the market.
I stressed not only how profoundly obvious is the statement "if you work full time you should earn enough money to live on", but also the economic damage done by low pay. If people don't have money to spend on their basic needs, that's money not available to local shops and services - and communities can get trapped in a downward spiral of poverty and loss of services.
Among the other speakers were some of the Durham Teaching Assistants caught up in the long-running dispute over downgrading of their pay, conditions and status. As with so many workers I've met in similar situations, they're obviously concerned about pay and conditions, but what perhaps rankles most is the lack of respect being shown for their skills, experience, education and contribution. It reminded me of the situation of the Care UK workers in Doncaster in 2014.