Austerity protest ahead of Tory conference

Festival to highlight problems of low pay.

As part of the Britain Needs a Pay Rise campaign, the Midlands TUC is to host a family-friendly Hard Up Festival in Birmingham this weekend to highlight the ongoing negative impact of government policies on pay and living standards across the region.

The festival will take place this Sunday (28th September) in Victoria Square just as the Conservative Party Conference opens in the city. Along with funfair activities, children’s entertainment, community stalls and music, a march around Birmingham city centre will take place followed by a rally calling for workers in the Midlands to get a pay rise.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Ministers may keep telling us that growth has returned and that we are in the middle of a recovery, but it doesn’t feel like that to people across the Midlands. Throughout the UK workforce wage rises continue to fall far short of the cost of living. Unemployment may be falling, but many of the jobs being created are of the low-paid, insecure kind.

“Insecurity and low pay have become the new normal. Many people want full-time work but are stuck doing part-time jobs. Others are living hand to mouth on zero-hours contracts. Households across the region are struggling to make ends meet as their pay fails to keep pace with prices. The Midlands, and Britain as a whole, needs a pay rise, not just to bring relief to hard-pressed workers but also to drive a sustainable economic recovery.”

Midlands TUC Regional Secretary Lee Barron added, “The Hard Up Festival will focus attention on the grim reality of austerity and will make clear that it’s about time the people of the Midlands got a pay rise. Damaging austerity has meant that low pay and falling living standards have become the norm for too many people across the region. The Midlands has been at the centre of the storm unleashed by the 2008 financial crisis. The policies of this government have only served to turn this into a full-blown social and economic hurricane here in the Midlands. And there is no sign of respite – with another 6,000 job losses announced at Birmingham City Council just last week.

“It’s time for an alternative approach. It’s time for decent jobs, respect at work and fair pay for all. The Midlands needs a Pay Rise”