‘WE REJECT WAGE CUTS!’ – say UNISON & GMB spokeswomen

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‘We reject public sector pay cuts,’ GMB national officer Sharon Holder told News Line yesterday.

She was responding to remarks by chancellor Darling yesterday, where he suggested public sector workers should take pay cuts if they want to keep their jobs.

Holder added: ‘Public sector workers in the main do not get the kind of benefits some private sector staff do.

‘Given that the government want to get in at the next election, a little less focus on public sector workers, who do the government’s work for them, is something I’m sure they would very much appreciate.

‘Public sector salaries are often set by independent pay review bodies, and these are the recommendations that are being implemented.

‘I’m sure the public sector is in as much need of a standard of living as most other people.

‘If Alastair Darling has as much influence over bankers as he should have, then maybe we would not be in the situation we are in today.’

A Unison spokeswoman told News Line: ‘Why is the chancellor pitting private sector workers against those in the public sector and calling for a race to the bottom?

‘It’s a myth to suggest that nurses, dinners ladies, care workers and the overwhelming majority of public sector workers are paid too much or get bonuses.

‘The government should not use hard working public sector workers as a smokescreen for the damage and fat bonuses still being meted out to the City bankers who have dragged the country into a recession.

‘We would not expect the government to renege on its promise to honour the current pay agreement in the NHS.

‘We have been offered a zero pay rise in local government, and we have sweeping job cuts in councils across the country.

‘There are alternatives needed to be looked at.’

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Darling said: ‘What is being paid has sometimes lost the relationship it ought to have with what someone actually does.

‘Once that happens, it’s not only unfair, it’s actually grossly inefficient.’

He added: ‘There’s a lot of evidence that people in the private sector have taken pay cuts and held on to their jobs.’

Public sector workers already face a one per cent cap on pay rises, announced in the pre-budget report last month.

Darling has now ordered a wider study of public pay, by the Senior Salaries Review Body, which will report by the budget.

Meanwhile, government and big business fears were expressed yesterday of a public backlash against massive banking profits.

Britain’s biggest banks are next week expected to announce profits of up to £25bn.

Barclays, HSBC and Standard Chartered, three of the Big Five UK banks, are planning to radically alter their bonus pools in an attempt to head off Obama-style moves to break up the biggest banks.

Senior UK government officials said that although they did not agree with the US approach they were expecting to see far less money paid in bonuses when the banks announce their end of year figures over the next month.

It is expected that the percentage of revenues paid out in executive salaries and bonuses should see a sharp fall compared to previous years.

It is estimated that Barclays alone will announce a record full year pre-tax profit of around £10.6bn on February 16th.