What the other half get paid

3rd July 2013

I don’t know how my TV has lasted so long given the first thing I turn on in the morning is the news. This morning what set my blood pressure rising was the story that MPs will get a pay rise rumoured to be around £10,000, on the recommendation of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA).

I’m a Unison shop steward who represents many low-paid workers in further education, some of whom don’t take home £10,000 in a year. Alright, the ones with the lowest incomes are only paid to work term-times but the 38 or 39 weeks they work is still more weeks than Parliament actually sits for.

Of course many MPs, despite their tax payer-funded second homes, their luxurious expenses and their subsidised dining and drinking in House of Commons bars and restaurants, will think this increase is too low. £10,000 a year extra would take a backbencher’s salary to over £76,000 but when IPSA surveyed MPs on what they think their salaries should be, it averaged £86,000. So far short of their inflated expectations does their salary fall that many of them moonlight, taking second jobs. Analysis by the Guardian showed that for 20 MPs last year, representing constituents was their second job, as they earned more from work outside Parliament.

Some of my workmates have two or more jobs but for them it’s not a matter of choice, it’s the only way to pay at least most of the bills. I know cleaners that have three or four jobs to go to in a single day but I also know of teaching staff who are delivering fast food in the evenings, such is the effect on incomes of increasing casualisation on top of frozen wages.

Four years’ pay freeze while the prices of everything else goes up and up means that those of us lucky enough to keep permanent, full-time, jobs are struggling to stay afloat, often getting through the last week of the month only by using the plastic to pay for essentials like food. The £740,000, according to the Guardian, earned by Tory MP Steven Phillips for working 1,700 hours as a barrister, sounds more like a lottery win than annual pay for a second job.

Meanwhile the Queen gets the equivalent of a multiple roll-over Euro-millions jackpot every year. Her income, at our expense, will rise 5% to nearly £38 million next year. I missed that item on the morning news or I certainly wouldn’t still have a TV.

Ronnie Job

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