An open letter to Jeremy Hunt from hospital cleaner Mary
I’m a cleaner in a hospital in the West Midlands. I’m at the bottom of the tree, pay-wise, but my work helps the clinical staff to keep the hospital safe and free from infection and makes a difference to patients. I want you to understand why I feel so let down by your decision not to give me a fair pay rise.
I know there is a big gap between your wages and mine. You are apparently worth millions. My pay is less than £300 per week.
So I know you don’t have to make the choice between buying food or paying your electricity bill. I know you haven’t had to cope with the shame of applying for help from a food bank or worry about spending a third of your wages paying off short term loans needed to cover the gaps between pay checks.
So I don’t think you are in the best position to understand how I feel about your decision not to increase my hourly rate, even by the stingy 1% recommended by the Pay Review Body.
The thirty five thousand NHS staff like me who earn less than the living wage of £7.65 have been clobbered by increases in costs – the ‘inflation rate’ for those at the bottom of the earnings pile is estimated to be around 25% since the crash. Paying us the recommended hourly uplift would have at least gone some way to helping me make up the gap. If you had done what the Pay Review Body recommended (and what staff in Scotland will get) then the 1% would have been added to my hourly rate, meaning I could have worked more hours and tried to make up my costs that way. Paying just a flat amount will mean my pay in 2016 will be at the same rate as in 2013.
Me and the other staff on the bottom pay points feel as if you are telling us we are not worth a measly 1%.
I feel that there is a big and growing gap between the haves and the have nots in our society. The more I read about the lives and earnings of those making decisions about my pay, the more I realise that you cannot possibly have any idea about what it is like to try and manage like we do. Your decision means I am likely to be pushed into relying on in-work benefits.
I work hard and I think that people like me are worth the dignity of a job that means I can live without handouts.
Hospital Cleaner, West Midlands