The South West TUC has today launched a campaign to stop the West Country being declared a low-pay zone.
Chancellor Osborne’s plan to end national pay rates for public servants by levelling down public sector pay to that of the private sector would have a devastating impact on the South West, says the TUC.
This is partly because of the high percentage of public sector workers in the region (27.1%) and partly because of the already low pay (£1.58 per hour less than the UK average).
Devon and Cornwall, in particular, would be badly affected because the pay rates for the two counties are lower still – £2.55 less for Devon and £3.59 less for Cornwall than the £14.90 national average.
Nigel Costley, regional secretary of the South West TUC, said: ‘When the Chancellor talks about regional and localised wage negotiations, what he really means is driving down pay to the lowest levels.
‘This will have devastating impact on the economy of the West Country by embedding a low-pay culture that has already caused so much hardship for hard-working families.
‘In recent years, progress has been made to close the pay gap between average pay here and that of the UK average but we are in danger of going into reverse.
‘The region is dependent upon the public sector and the government is already cutting earnings by reducing pay and increasing pension charges.
‘The latest plan will involve a league table of pay rates across the country, consigning much of the West Country to the bottom divisions of pay.
‘This will drive out valuable skills from the region and hit the quality of public services.’