The Sun accuses Unison of ‘cashing in’ by saying nurses should get a pay rise too

The union says MPs' pay rise should be matched with rise for public sector workers. The Sun disagrees


Politics has been relegated from the front pages of the Sun since the general election, but some subjects can still get its goat.

One of these is apparently higher wages for nurses and street cleaners.

As the prime minister looks set to roll over and allow an increase in MPs’ salaries, the union Unison has called for the 10 per cent rise recommended by Ipsa, the independent quango, to be matched with an equal pay rise for its 1.3million members.

Britain’s best-selling newspaper is having none of it. Its panicked story on p2 today begins:

Wage war: Unison chiefs pressure PM

David Cameron is under huge pressure to act over a 10 per cent hike in MPs’ pay – as health workers demand they get ‘at least the same’.

Public service giant Unison, whose million public sector members range from nurses to street cleaners, said: ‘We hope this is a signal for the end of pay restraint.’

Sounds reasonable, you might think. (The Unison quote, not the slanted reporting.)

Well think again. Here’s the Sun’s editorial column today:

Unions cash in

Surprise, surprise. Now the unions say their members should get a 10 per cent rise, like MPs.

Who in the Commons can argue? Certainly no-one planning to take the monster hike recommended by Ipsa.

That includes, with reluctance, the prime minister – who’s hoping to appease his backbenchers who privately think they’re well worth it.

Britain cannot afford to give everyone in the public sector 10 per cent. And Mr Cameron and his MPs cannot afford politically to pocket the rise while the Labour front bench shun it.

It’s a pickle.

The PM may need to scrap Ipsa and go back to the drawing board.

‘Cashing in’ apparently means demanding for ‘nurses and street cleaners’ (and many others) what some MPs assume as a right.

To put this into perspective, the average starting salary for an NHS nurse is £21,000, while MPs are currently paid £67,000 – more than three times as much.

I could quote Unison beyond that one sentence in the Sun story, but instead, here’s what the paper’s horse in the general election, prime minister David Cameron, said when the pay rise for MPs was first floated:

“The idea of an 11 per cent pay rise in one year at a time of pay restraint, I think, is simply unacceptable.”

The Sun evidently disagrees. It admits that (‘with reluctance’!) Mr Cameron will accept an extra £7,000 a year.

But while ‘Britain cannot afford’ a pay rise for nurses and cleaners, its main objection to the ‘monster hike’ for MPs is that Cameron ‘cannot afford politically to pocket the rise while the Labour front bench shun it’.

Are these the principles of Sun readers, or just its editors and proprietors?

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

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8 Responses to “The Sun accuses Unison of ‘cashing in’ by saying nurses should get a pay rise too”

  1. Harold

    Might I remind you the electorate had a choice and voted for these policies only just a month ago. Though many might not like what is coming the only people to blame are the electorate, it was in their hands.

  2. CGR

    MPs salaries are nothing to do with the PM. They decided by an indpendent body and approved by a free vote in the House.

  3. Torybushhug

    Only last weekend all of our friends at a gathering were saying how they earn less now than they did prior to the Banking crunch. In my own case my earnings are 50% down.
    MP’s I understand put off a rise since 2010, but I feel they are underpaid.
    Nurses I deal with through my business (1 last night) are on £40k in London (after a few years) and often get another £10k+ for weekend agency work. I think their pay is reasonable.
    Public sector workers have enjoyed modest rises whilst myself and friends have all enjoyed large income reductions (most of us are self employed).
    Life is tough but I don’t see this as unjust or somehow unnatural. The pre crash world was a fantasy based on all of us borrowing to fund consumption.

    Modern work pressures such as being targeted, scrutinised and watched are all a result of the WHICH generations desire for ‘better’ service and lower prices. I hear lefties talking in terms of work being made a less frenetic, less arduous place, but if you asked those same lefties how they would respond to a slower courier delivery or a laid back Solicitor (in an urgent property transaction) their misty eyes compassion would dissolve. Consumers like them demand all suppliers and participants are operating at full tilt.

  4. Dave Stewart

    In your analogy the Indian restaurant could hire more staff and they could share the workload round more thus not affecting the service the customer receives but simultaneously lowering the work pressure on staff. This of course would cost money and thus either the restaurant owner would have to see a cut in their profit margin and/or a rise in the cost of the food. However if all business were forced to operate in such a way (because they’ll never do it unless compelled) then people would have more money as a whole so the rise in price would not be so unpalatable. Not to mention people would have more time to themselves and wouldn’t need to eat out as often as they’d actually have time to cook for themselves.

    Also your estimates for what nurses earn are ridiculous. The average nurse earns £23K obviously it’ll be a bit higher in London but £40K is a joke.

    The main reason nurses cost so much to the NHS is because we can’t recruit enough of them because it’s a poorly paid job given the stress, hours and responsibility involved and quite frankly the government like to shit on them as often as they can to score points. I wouldn’t do it in a million years and my hat goes off to the people that do because without them we’d be screwed.

  5. Dave Stewart

    Except only 24% of the electorate voted for these polices. Should the other 76% of people just say “oh well that’s my allotment of democracy for the next 5 years might as well just sit here and endure it silently”.

  6. Cole

    Actually, nearly two thirds of us voted against the Tories – but they have an overall majority because of the daft electoral system (which gave Labour a similar lopsided victory in 2005).

  7. Harold

    My point was or is the electorate knew the rules they could vote accordingly or not as they wished please do not think I agree with the process or he outcome

  8. blarg1987

    Its swings and roundabouts, the risks of owning a business, profit is the reward for the risks taken, if you want less risk, then would you concede less profit?

    If the answer is yes then fair enough, if the answer is no then why should other parties take on those risks for no reward?

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