Durkan vows to fight on for better pay

Mark Durkan.
Mark Durkan.

SDLP Westminster candidate for Foyle, Mark Durkan, say he plans to continue his fight at Westminster for better pay and conditions for public sector workers in Derry hit by pay freezes and a higher pensions levy.

Mr Durkan, who has also shown his support for midwives and radiographers at Altnagelvin Hospital who went on strike for four hours last week, said:

“In the Chancellor’s recent Budget (of late March) he offered nothing to people in key public services who have endured pay restraint after pay restraint, even as their workloads have increased. As payrolls have decreased and workloads have increased, the pressures on them have gone up and the rewards have gone down.

“With the exception of what they can find in the changes in the personal tax allowance, absolutely nothing – not relief or respite – was offered to them. Instead, they are being offered more of the cuts that will affect the circumstances in which they are working very hard to provide those services.

“Deterioration in pay standards combined with service stresses is having a negative impact on professional morale. Indeed, public sector workers have been on a pay freeze for a number of years now – which in real terms amounts to a pay cut.”

Mr. Durkan continued: “Staff are being put under more and more pressure, with roles expanded, people not getting away from work on time, and many struggling to even take breaks. They are being pushed to the limit and services are suffering as a result.

“The projected ongoing flat pay freeze for hard pressed public servants – especially in health and care services – was one of my reasons for voting against the budget.

“I also co-sponsored a parliamentary motion condemning the government’s decision to reject the Independent Pay Review Body’s recommendation that all NHS staff – including in Derry and throughout the North – receive a one per cent cost of living pay increase.

“Similarly, in both a parliamentary motion and a debate in Westminster, I reflected the indignation at the ‘vocation tax’ increase in nurses and midwives’ registration fees while being denied overdue pay increases.

“Importantly, nurses and midwives – who are already facing so many frustrations relating to their pay and conditions – are particularly aggrieved when hit with a ‘vocation tax’ for the privilege of continuing to work.

“Government Ministers are often the first to pay great tribute to hardworking nurses, midwives and key public service staff – but they must now listen to their worries and concerns.

“I will therefore continue my fight at Westminster for better pay and conditions for public sector workers in Derry who have been hit with longer pay freezes and a higher pensions levy as a direct result of the government’s austerity measures.

“I will also take my seat in the House of Commons to press the government to address the fundamentally unfair and inequitable pay differentials which exist in the civil service.”