CIVIL servants’ union PCS has called for urgent talks with the Cabinet Office over its 2018 pay claim which calls for a fully-funded 5% pay rise, a Living Wage of £10 an hour, pay equality across the civil service and a common pay and grading structure.
A decisive yes vote by tens of thousands of PCS members in a consultative ballot on pay last year sent a powerful message to the government to act to scrap the 1% public sector pay cap and fund above-inflation pay rises.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka has outlined the union’s demands in a letter to new Cabinet Office minister David Lidington. He called it a ‘matter of shame for the government’ that a number of departments of state, including HMRC, have recently had to raise pay rates for their lowest paid workers to comply with the statutory National Minimum Wage.
Serwotka said: ‘Our members have clearly had enough of falling living standards and day-to-day struggles to survive on appalling rates of pay. Action must now be taken to address this situation, alongside action to address the structural problems within pay systems in the civil service and its related bodies.’
A PCS statement said: ‘Since the economic crash in 2008, PCS members in the civil service and its related bodies have been subjected to unjustifiable pay restraint policies designed to make them pay for a crisis not of their making.
‘The imposition of pay restraint has compounded the problems caused by years of a delegated bargaining system that has resulted in huge inequities within pay systems with workers doing broadly the same jobs for wildly different rates of pay.
‘This system has created discriminatory practices that, nearly 50 years after the Equal Pay Act, should be considered shameful for any government.
‘Our national executive has decided that we will:
• put together plans for more protests.
• work to ensure that all workplaces are ballot-ready, so that if we have to move to a statutory strike ballot we can achieve the majority turnout now required under the Trade Union Act.
• talk to the TUC and other unions about joint campaigning on pay.
• support the TUC national demonstration calling for a new deal for working people, and backing the campaign for an end to the pay cap and for 5% increases for all public sector workers.
‘Staggering pay losses running into many millions of pounds have been revealed by PCS reps and members busy preparing for next Wednesday’s (31 January) payday protests. Reps are planning to organise protests outside workplaces to show why they desperately need the 1% pay cap to be lifted and for the government to deliver fully-funded, above-inflation public sector workers.
‘Members across the UK have been using the PCS pay calculator to work out how much they have lost because of seven years of the freeze. Workplace reps have then added all the individual results together for a combined workplace total.
‘Here are some of the workplace losses that have been calculated so far:
• At the DVLA in Swansea: £12 million.
• At the Office for National Statistics and the Intellectual Property Office, Newport: £14 million.
• At HMRC, George Stephenson House, Stockton-on-Tees: £3,665,223.
• At Walker House Ministry of Defence building in Liverpool: £1,308,993.60.
• At DWP office in St Austell, Cornwall: £426,374.70.’
Meanwhile, teacher unions representing the majority of education staff in England and Wales have submitted a joint statement calling for a significant pay increase for teachers and school leaders, and setting out their views on the most pressing issues facing the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB).
Unions submitted detailed evidence separately from each other on Friday, 25 January 2018.
ASCL, NAHT, NEU, UCAC and Voice believe that the STRB needs to set a benchmark for teacher and school leaders’ pay which will make teaching competitive with other graduate professions and aid both recruitment and retention.
A joint unions statement said: ‘We believe it is a matter of “justice and fairness” that all teachers and school leaders should receive an annual cost of living increase to prevent them from being worse off year-on-year. The current policy of differentiated pay awards is not working and is demoralising the profession.
‘We are calling for a significant pay increase for all teachers and school leaders to begin to address the decline in teachers’ real pay over the last seven years. It is also vital that any pay increases arising from the recommendations of the STRB are fully funded by the government. School budgets are at breaking point. Without additional funding, paying staff fairly whilst fully funding the curriculum will be impossible.’
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: ‘After seven years of government-imposed austerity, teachers need and deserve a decent pay rise, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it is essential in tackling the ongoing recruitment and retention crisis. And the government must fund any pay award rather than expecting schools to foot the bill from budgets which have already been cut to the bone.’
Paul Whiteman, General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, (NAHT) said: ‘Teaching is a demanding and important profession and teachers’ pay should reflect this. At the moment, it doesn’t.
‘The recruitment crisis continues unabated and the teacher supply pipeline is leaking at both ends. At present the government is failing to recruit enough new teachers, and doing nowhere near enough whilst too many experienced teachers leave prematurely. A pay rise for school staff is long overdue.’
Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said: ‘Children’s education is at risk – insufficient recruitment and retention of high quality teachers is a very real problem.
‘To begin to address this, it is essential that teacher workload is reduced and that the government now commits to introducing a restorative pay rise, starting with a significant real terms increase in 2018, which is fully funded. The public is demanding government values these hardworking professionals who can make such a positive impact on young people’s futures.’