THE GMB trade union has exposed a shocking Treasury report which Chancellor Philip Hammond tried to hide showing public sector wages are now below those in the private sector for the first time since the 2007-08 banking crash.
The union has accused the Treasury of ‘covering up’ the study – which reveals that in 2016 public sector workers were paid 0.6% less than their private sector counterparts in similar roles.
The GMB said: ‘Every year the government conducts analysis on public and private sector pay – and has published them routinely in previous years when they appeared to show there was a public sector pay “premium”.
‘This year’s figures were not published and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss recently refused to release the updated analysis when challenged in Parliament. The Treasury then also failed to publish the study in response to a Freedom of Information request by GMB. The figures were only released when GMB officially complained and threatened to refer the Treasury to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).’
GMB said that the previously unpublished Treasury estimates ‘kicked away the last prop’ behind the government’s policy of enforcing real-terms public sector pay cuts. It added: ‘The news will come as an embarrassment to Chancellor Philip Hammond who had previously quoted the study in media interviews after he was accused of saying that public sector workers are “overpaid”.
‘Although Hammond claimed that public sector workers benefit from higher employer pension contributions, GMB analysis shows that they also pay in significantly more through employee contributions. Three in five public sector workers pay in at least six per cent of earnings on average, compared to one in seven private sector workers. A separate estimate by the Office for National Statistics shows that public sector pay is 5.5% lower on average for jobs in similarly sized organisations.’
Rehana Azam, GMB National Secretary for Public Services, said: ‘It’s no wonder that Ministers fought tooth and nail to cover up these damning figures. The Tories can never again claim that public sector workers are “overpaid” when the Treasury’s own assessment proves otherwise.
‘The average local government worker earns about £20,000 while teaching assistants are paid just £12,000, and all public sector workers have lost thousands due to a planned decade of real-terms pay cuts.
‘It’s shameful that in one of the world’s richest nations some of our public sector heroes are forced to take on debt or use food banks to make ends meet. GMB’s members are performing miracles every day, but the goodwill is at breaking point and if public services can’t retain their staff then patients’ lives will be put at risk.
‘Enough is enough. In the Budget the Chancellor must announce the fully-funded above-inflation pay rises that public sector workers need and so desperately deserve.’