The following appeared as my New Years' column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 5th January:
As we enter the New Year, it’s always an important time to look forward.
It’s often a period of setting goals, aspirations and targets, and persevering with the resolutions we sometimes regrettably made in the early hours of January 1st.
But before we look too far forward, I want to briefly look at the recent past and the festive period one last time.
Because it’s estimated that around one million people across the UK worked over Christmas Day, with many more doing the same over New Year.
And often, they simply don’t get enough thanks.
Whilst many of us were tucking into our turkey on Christmas, or hugging loved ones as the clocks chimed midnight at New Year, they were at work, making sure our vital services kept running.
Everyone from cleaners to carers, prison staff to petrol station attendants, to all our emergency service workers and military service personnel overseas; we owe a great debt of gratitude and our thanks.
But sadly, as well as spending these important days away from their families and friends, these workers are also forced to go without seasonal goodwill and thanks on pay day.
Because research shows that of the most-worked jobs over Christmas Day, only kitchen staff have seen their real wages grow since 2007.
In the last 10 years, the rest of those dedicating their time to our vital services we depend on over the festive period have seen real wages fall.
Every month, doctors’ real terms wages are down £1000, prison service workers down £432, police officers down £415, security guards and nurses are down over £100, care workers and home carers down £91, waiters and waitresses are down £83, bar staff £51, and the list goes on.
This is scant reward for missing out on time with friends and family over the festive period, and that’s why it’s important to pay our thanks.
So now, looking forward into the New Year again, we can set out our goals for the year.
Rising wages and a good pay for those who deserve it is one of mine, and that’s what I’ll continue pushing for in 2018.