Unison election ad calls out government 'hypocrisy' over key worker pay

Work narrated by Speech Debelle urges viewers to “vote for fair pay in the May elections”.

Unison, a UK-based union which represents public sector workers, has launched a campaign contrasting the government's praise for key workers during the coronavirus pandemic with its record on their pay deals.

Created by Krow with a voiceover by Mercury Prize-winning musician Speech Debelle, “They deserve more” begins by crediting frontline workers including hospital porters, care home workers and emergency responders who “went to work when the world stayed home”. 

“And they call them heroes: our first line of defence, partners for the final dance”, Debelle says, prompting the words “key workers deserve more than this government’s empty words” in block yellow font. 

The film, which will run online, ends by urging viewers to “vote for fair pay in the May elections”, and launches today (26 April) ahead of the polls on 6 May.

John Quarrey, CEO of Krow Group, said: “Most of us are fed up with the utter hypocrisy of the government’s treatment of key workers and this campaign aims to turn this disgust into action at the ballot box.”

Photographs taken by Simon Kreitem feature in the film and in digital, outdoor and press executions, including a cover wrap in the Metro

The campaign was created by Darryl George and Annie Fox, while media planning and buying is handled by MI Media.

Christina McAnea, general secretary of Unison, said that fair pay for frontline workers “must be a priority for politicians”, in light of “all [that] public service staff have done to keep everyone safe” in the past 13 months.

“Otherwise, hard-working but under-appreciated staff will leave, experience will be lost and recruitment will become so much tougher,” she said.

A cavalcade of brands created work celebrating the efforts of frontline workers during the pandemic, including Channel 4, Toyota and HSBC.

McAnea continued: “Services are already struggling to cope because of many thousands of vacancies and problems can’t be allowed to get even worse.

"Decent local services are in all of our best interests."

Last June, TAP – a platform for thanking key workers – launched an ad exemplifying the power of a simple "thank you", and in November the Living Wage Foundation more businesses to go further than the government minimum and pay a real living wage.


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