Councillor: 'Time must come when we will hold people to account - and let's pay tribute to the NHS in July!'

  Posted: 06.04.20 at 19:38 by Martin Kerin - Labour councillor for Grays Riverside ward

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Thank you for your insightful and investigative article entitled: 'One in five Thurrock workers gets less than real living wage - including key coronavirus frontline staff!' I read it with a deep sense of anger.

Please note that I am expressing anger, and not shock - I wish I was shocked. The reason that I am not shocked is because, for too many years, we have seen an erosion in both the pay and status of jobs that are now deemed - rightly! - to be critical to the running of our country.

The article quotes the GMB Union's appraisal that the Coronavirus crisis has shone a light on the 'rock-bottom pay' of the people 'expected to risk their health to protect us.' We live in times where the phrase 'In-work Poverty' has ceased to be an oxymoron, and has become a fact for millions of hard-working Britons who live in poverty, despite working hard.

This is an issue I wrote about last year

This appalling issue is not, therefore, new. It has simply had a lighthouse-sized beam shone on it by Covid-19. During these tumultuous and unprecedented weeks, we have seen the low paid and so-called-unskilled race to the rescue of our nation.

"Let's create an annual day of celebration and gratitude for the NHS"

Cleaners, shelf-stackers and care-workers are at the vanguard of the fight against coronavirus.

Dockers, delivery drivers and postal workers are keeping Britain moving. Teachers, teaching assistants and school site, catering and admin staff are providing outstanding care for key worker children and vulnerable pupils.

As for our wonderful NHS staff, words cannot express the gratitude we all owe them. From this year forward, let's make 5th July an annual day of celebration and gratitude for the NHS.

When we have finally overcome this virus, we must move urgently to address the injustice of millions of people toiling away in low-paid jobs that are, when the proverbial hits the fan, crucial to the very fabric of the UK. When this disease is beaten and we return to normal, we must remember that never was so much owed by so many to so few.

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