Unions angry over pay and progression cuts!

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NUT and NASUWT on strike at the Alec Reed academy in Northolt
NUT and NASUWT on strike at the Alec Reed academy in Northolt

In his budget speech Chancellor Osborne announced that there would be a one per cent annual pay rise of the public sector up to and including 2016.

With the inflation rate at 2.7% and rising this means workers taking an annual pay cut!

Osborne said: ‘This will apply to the civil service and workforces with Pay Review Bodies.

‘We will also seek substantial savings from what is called progression pay.’

These annual pay rises, that are part of an agreed professional development path, are to be abolished.

Osborne added for good measure that setting departmental budgets for the year 2015-16, which starts before the end of this Parliament, ‘will be done in the Spending Round that will be set out on 26th June’.

He told MPs: ‘I said last Autumn that we would require around £10bn of savings for that Spending Round. I confirm today that we will instead be seeking £11.5bn of current savings.’

The budget makes clear that a savage cull of wages and jobs is on the way.

Commenting on the Chancellor’s Budget Speech, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers said: ‘The government’s war on public sector workers is causing serious economic problems.

‘Attacks on public sector pay levels and pay progression drain demand from the economy, forcing living standards down even further as the economy stagnates.

‘As we have said consistently, investing in the public sector including education is key to economic growth and prosperity.

‘The government’s dreadful record on growth is testament to these truths.

‘Osborne has even failed his own economic tests, yet offers only more of the same.

‘The IMF and others have criticised the government’s austerity measures and their damaging consequences.

‘As a society we are paying a high price for these dogma-driven attacks on the public sector.

‘Education is high on the government’s hit list.

‘Schools and colleges have not been “protected” as the government claims, but have suffered significant real terms funding cuts.

‘Tuition fees have been trebled, the Education Maintenance Allowance has been cut, sixth form colleges’ funding is being cut by almost a fifth and the limited programme to rebuild schools in great disrepair has ground to a halt.

‘Youth unemployment is rising again.

‘Teachers have already seen their pay frozen, in addition to significant cuts in take-home pay due to the increase in pension contributions.

‘With the extension of the government’s 1% pay cap for another year alongside persistently high inflation, teachers now face an even longer period of on-going real terms pay cuts.’

The NUT stressed: ‘Teachers also face attempts by Michael Gove to dismantle the national pay structure.

‘These changes are a deliberate attempt to reduce the value of teacher pay – another attack on teachers, undermining fairness and threatening future teacher supply.

‘The NUT and NASUWT campaign to Protect Teachers and Defend Education shows that we are determined to resist these reckless attacks on our living standards and economic future.’

NASUWT General Secretary Chris Keates said: ‘The decision to extend the public sector pay cap for a further year by limiting pay uplifts to a limit of up to 1% confirms that in reality the independent pay review bodies are redundant and have been since 2010.

‘The Chancellor’s statement that substantial savings will be made from limiting pay progress of public sector workers, confirms that the School Teachers’ Review Body has been duped by Michael Gove.

‘The changes made to the teachers’ pay structure were nothing to do with rewarding “good teachers” as the Secretary of State claimed but in fact were, as the NASUWT predicted, a precursor to extending further pay depression to teachers and now to all other public service workers.

‘The Chancellor’s claim that school budgets are protected is as risible as his statement that he is saving jobs. Schools are facing a real terms cut to their budgets of over 3%.

‘His continuing cuts have resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs and record levels of unemployment, particularly among the young.

‘This budget will inflict even more misery on already hard-pressed ordinary families.’

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: ‘Instead of stimulating growth, the Chancellor has chosen to cut the living standards of six million public sector workers still further, not only by extending their 1% pay limit for another year but also by cutting their hopes of career progression.

‘In the middle of the biggest baby boom for 50 years, we desperately need more teachers.

‘This Budget risks depriving our children of the high quality education they deserve by making teaching a low paid and unattractive profession.’

Jon Skewes, director for employment relations, policy and communications at the Royal College of Midwives, said: ‘This Budget condemns hard-working midwives to another three years of pay misery after two years when pay was frozen. We are also deeply concerned about the plans to stop pay progression.

‘We want to see the NHS Pay Review Body have real independence to make recommendations on pay free from government interference.’

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) warned that firefighters and their families face a further squeeze on living standards as bankers and bosses reap tax cuts in George Osborne’s ‘Austerity Britain’.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said the budget showed the hollowness of the chancellor’s ‘All in this together’ claim – with firefighters and other public sector workers facing a real cutback in pay as Osborne calls for rises to be pegged at 1% for a further year.

With inflation at 2.7% and rising, that means a pay cut.

Wrack said: ‘Once again firefighters and other public sector workers are bearing the brunt of cut backs fuelled by bone-headed determination to stick with a failed economic plan.

‘Osborne seems intent not only on shrinking the state, but shrinking the spending power of workers who deserve a fair rate for the contribution they make.

‘Firefighters take pride in their job, and are already fighting ill-thought out station closures.

‘This budget flags up a further £11.5 billion cut across departments in the next spending round.

‘The fire service is already cut to the bone. There must be no more playing fast and loose with public safety.

‘There must be no more fire station closures. The public deserve to be protected.’

Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary, said: ‘The Tory/Liberal government has not pulled off “mission impossible” which is to deflate the economy to growth and a balanced budget.

‘Osborne sticking to plan A after three years fits Einstein’s definition of insanity which is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

‘The US, which did not embrace such folly, has recovered. The recovery under way in the UK was derailed by this reckless stupidity.’

Brian Strutton, GMB National Secretary for Public Services, added: ‘There is no justification and nothing fair about further public sector pay restraint.

‘It is bad enough capping the annual pay rise but now attacking pay progression is outrageous. In the public sector people start lower and reach the full rate after, typically, five years’ service.

‘The other effect is that those who would suffer most from a freeze in increments will be low paid women who tend to have shorter service and not to have reached the full rate for the job. Freezing progression seems on the face of it to discriminate