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Public sector unions warn of looming industrial action over ‘great pay robbery’

UK News | Published:

The warning was made at a rally opposite Parliament.

Nurses hold a demonstration in Parliament Square, London

The Government faces the threat of co-ordinated industrial action in the new year unless it ends the “damaging” cap on the pay of millions of public sector workers.

The warning was made at a rally opposite Parliament when union leaders joined hundreds of NHS, local government and emergency service workers to protest against their pay being held down for the last seven years.

The TUC published figures showing that public sector workers will be “significantly” out of pocket even if the Government lifts its controversial cap on their pay.

Police and prison officers have been promised increases above the current 1% limit, but they will still be hundreds of pounds a year worse off by 2022, said the TUC.

Union leaders said teachers, NHS staff, civil servants and other workers had lost thousands of pounds because of the cap.

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Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union said all public sector workers should have an immediate 5% wage rise, without it being paid for by job cuts.

“We want to sit down with other unions in the new year to say that if we don’t get what we want we will take industrial action together,” he said.

The rally was held hours after new figures showed RPI inflation has reached 3.9% and CPI inflation 3%.

UK Inflation rate
(PA Graphics)

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TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the whole trade union movement will support anyone taking industrial action.

“Some public servants are £4,000 a year worse off than in 2010, and they are falling further and further behind the private sector.

“Millions have fallen foul of this great pay robbery. When nurses are having to use food banks, payday lenders and pawnshops in one of the world’s richest countries, something has gone catastrophically wrong.

“The pay cap is not just unfair and unjust, but unnecessary too. It has damaged morale, recruitment and retention in already overstretched services, it has sucked money out of the local and regional economies that need it most, and it has done next to nothing to repair the public finances.”

Union leaders spoke from the top of an open top double decker bus, directing their demands across the road to the Government.

A Treasury spokesman said: “The Government has been clear that our public sector workers deserve fulfilling jobs that are fairly rewarded. We have already confirmed that the across-the-board 1% pay cap will be replaced by a flexible approach that reflects the circumstances of each workforce.

“We will do this as we continue to deal with our debts in a balanced way, which allows us to invest in our public services and keeps people in jobs.

“The independent pay review process for the workforces is now under way but the final overall package for public sector workers will be fair to them and fair to taxpayers as a whole.”

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