‘AFTER a decade-long pay cut we are asking ourselves: is this good enough? And of what we have seen, the answer is NO,’ senior GMB union organiser Andy Prendergast said yesterday.
The Tories’ public sector pay increase was billed as ‘lifting the 1% pay cap for a million workers’ – but inflation is higher than the rise in pay. Therefore, the unions and the Labour Party rightly insist that this means, when inflation is taken into account, what is being pushed is, in reality, a pay cut – and it will be paid for with further savage cuts to services.
Teachers will see their pay rise by 3.5% and junior doctors by 2%. Prendergast added: ‘We are dealing with teachers, we are dealing with police officers, with prison officers, this is a large number of unions in different sections of society.
‘What we can say is that the offers fall far short of the expectations of the unions who are negotiating, so I would be surprised if it meant that there were no successful strike ballots as a result of this. ‘What we have seen in the public sector is efficiency savings which have been done for ten years, we don’t believe there is any meat left on the bone to strip so, as a result of some of these increases, it is going to mean more cuts and less services. ‘What we need is proper investment in public services and proper pay.’
Doctors’ union BMA representative body chair, Dr Anthea Mowat, said: ‘It is truly astonishing that the UK government has chosen to ignore the already insufficient recommendations of its own independent pay review body and to then compound the misery that this will cause for thousands of our hard-working members and their families by refusing to backdate what will be an inadequate pay uplift.’
Unison assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: ‘Behind the good news headlines, the government is simply robbing Peter to pay Paul. Without extra money from the Treasury to fund these pay increases, services and jobs somewhere will have to be cut. ‘Sadly these pay rises won’t be pain free for schools and police forces. Without extra resources, already beleaguered budgets will now have to be raided.’
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: ‘The government has said that it is going to lift the public sector pay cap, the reality is that by lifting the pay cap, there is going to be an increase which is below the rate of inflation. ‘It is going to be about 0.8% below it and the unions are right that 5% is what is needed for it, we support that.
‘But it is also important to understand that there is no increase in funding to the public sector for this, so that by increasing the pay levels, or be it by lessening the rates of inflation, that can only be paid for by cuts in the public services.’