The Workers Union has delivered a cautious welcome to the decision to greenlight HS2, but says that major infrastructure projects should not become a distraction from other issues of national importance.
The plan to link London to Birmingham and the North via a new high speed rail line was finally given the go ahead on Tuesday, after a decade of wrangling saw the project come close to cancellation. Major objections from landowners, back bench MPs and environmental groups sought to obstruct the construction of the £100bn line, but Boris Johnson maintained that although the decision to press ahead was ‘difficult,’ the project had ‘fundamental value’.
At the same time that the government committed a substantial chunk of tax payers’ cash to HS2, the people that turn the wheels of our public services were busy being forgotten. The recent announcement of a 2 percent pay offer to local government employees represents a cut in real terms and draws an unfavourable parallel with the cash available for the new railway.
A spokesperson for The Workers Union said: ‘While we appreciate that the government wants to show the world that post-Brexit Britain is capable of delivering major projects, it’s difficult to get away from the feeling that this is grandstanding designed to obscure the bigger issues. We know that HS2 will happen and we support its potential to bring new jobs and economic benefits to parts of Northern England. However, it should not be forgotten that this announcement comes on the back of over a decade of punishing austerity, in which workers in low-paid employment have seen their living standards sink through the floor. Meanwhile public sector workers have endured multiple pay-freezes or received only the most derisory offers of below inflation pay rises.
‘Yes, responsible government is about making tough choices, but it’s also about understanding and rewarding hard working people for maintaining the engine room of our economy. Our members need action now and we will not wait around on the off chance that they’ll receive deferred rewards from pet projects – HS2 or otherwise.’
The Workers Union is Britain’s fastest growing union. Unlike other organisations, we don’t waste time waving placards in the street or pick up the tab at the TUC bar. The money that we take from subs goes on looking after the interests of our members. We are a voice for change – but we can’t keep shouting loudly without your help. So join us and become part of the WU family. We’ll support you – no matter who you are or where you work.
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