Senedd members should take a pay cut to show solidarity with the people of Wales during this crisis
At an RMT picket line in Cardiff this week, Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price stated that: “If England is to have its Summer of Discontent, can we contrast that here — within those fields that we control — have a Summer of Solidarity.”
This sentiment has been echoed by many Senedd members, predominantly from the Liberal/Left parties in Wales.
In the UK at the moment, the cost of living crisis is no longer tolerable. With the RMT striking, and a variety of other sectors considering balloting their membership, working people are demanding better pay, better conditions, and their fair share.
As of May 2022, we in Wales are facing the worst food crisis since the Second World War, alongside record-breaking rises in the cost of food, fuel, and basic necessities. All the while, wages continue to stagnate, if not fall.
We are priced out of our homes, priced out of our communities (all the while, holiday lets run rampant), and a large number of people in Wales can barely scrape pennies to get by. This is also while a worldwide, devastating pandemic is still affecting lives across Wales.
This is an extremely hard time. As Adam Price mentioned in his speech, we need to be tackling the issues we can actually politically affect in Wales, and show real solidarity with those struggling.
Yet, in an area we can lead by example, that of MS’ salary, our Senedd politicians are quite willingly turning a blind eye.
At the time of writing, an MS takes home a salary of nearly £70,000 (£69,273 per annum). This doesn’t include expenses, which can rake up thousands of pounds extra.
Under recent changes, the First Minister receives £151,535, his ministers get £108,238, and deputy ministers receive £92,003.
Similarly, Chairs of committees get either £83,344 or £78,647, depending on the committee, while the presiding officer will be paid £92,003.
As well as this, political leaders of parties not in government would receive between £86,590 and £108,230, according to how many members they have in their group.
This lifestyle is funded directly by us, working people in Wales. While nearly half of people in Wales are suffering fuel poverty, we still pay out each year so that our Senedd members can live comfortably.
Ironically, Dr Elizabeth Haywood, Chair of the Independent Remuneration Board of the Senedd, justified the increase in stating that: “The board has taken into account the significant rise in living costs facing staff and believes it is right to recognise this through a modest increase in pay.”
And while some MS’ may argue that they donate large chunks of their salary, the fact of the matter is that this relies on the goodwill of each Senedd member, and crucially, their word.
Ultimately, for all the talk there is in the Senedd of how we need to differentiate ourselves from Westminster, we also can’t replicate the same structures.
For Senedd politicians of all parties to attack those in Westminster for blatant greed, and a disconnect from the average person, yet to take home triple the average salary in Wales is an insult.
If our political representatives in the Senedd claim to truly represent Wales, they will lead by example, and take home a salary more proportionate to those they claim to serve.
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