From the TUC

Public servants don’t care about political games – They just need a pay rise

30 Jun 2017, by in Public services

Will she, won’t she? Theresa May’s position on pay for public service workers has been all over the place this week. 

On Wednesday we had a surprise announcement that the government might be considering an end to its policy of capping public sector pay. But hours later, a spectacular double-u-turn saw her whip her MPs to vote down a Labour amendment to the Queen’s speech that would do just that. Now there are rumours circulating that she might be preparing to reverse course yet again later this year.

Few public service workers will be holding their breath for change here. They’ve already seen 7 years of capped or frozen pay, with pay rises below inflation meaning that their wages have lost value every year as they are outpaced by rising prices. Many have seen £2,000 wiped off the value of their wages.

The General Election sent a very clear message to Theresa May that voters are concerned about the future of our public services and the value that we place on hardworking staff delivering those services. The TUC and GQRR ran a poll in the days after the election. It showed that over three quarters of voters support a public sector pay rise, even if it means paying higher taxes. This has been a priority for unions for years, but now we know 68% of Conservative voters feel it’s time for a pay rise too.

The public’s heartfelt thanks to the bravery and dedication of health and emergency service workers in the wake of terror attacks in London and Manchester and the Grenfell Tower tragedy brought this into sharp focus. How can it be right that a firefighter willing to risk their life saving others is now earning less in real terms than they were in 2010?

Not only is this unfair to public servants, it is doesn’t do service users and tax payers any favours either. From hospitals, to schools and prisons, employers are increasingly finding it hard to recruit and retain qualified staff as pay rates in the public sector decline in value. NHS Employers have been talking of their staff leaving to work in supermarkets for more pay.

This is leading to staff shortages that compromise quality and, in many cases, safety. Increasingly, employers are having to rely on the costly and inefficient use of agency labour that adds billions to already stretched budgets.

Few outside the Cabinet or Treasury believe that the public sector pay cap is either justified or sustainable. And now it is beginning to act as an obstacle not only to public service reform but also to meeting the government’s aim of creating an economy that works for all.

Extra pay going into public sector worker’s pockets means more spending power in local economies. We estimate the government’s restrictions on public sector wages have led to almost £2bn being sucked out of the economy of the North East of England alone.

Analysis by the IFS shows that this is affordable too. If public sector workers’ saw their earnings rise by the rate of inflation over the lifetime of this parliament, it would add just 1% to annual departmental spending – paying for itself through boosting economies and increasing tax revenue.

Public sector workers have earned the right to fair pay. The government’s public sector pay policy is harmful and self-defeating. The government say that they will reflect on the concerns indicated by voters in the general election. Working people spoke clearly in the election – government policy should reflect that.

UPDATE 3 July: The plot thickens. Now government ministers Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have called for change over public sector pay (though we hope they don’t write it on a bus this time), as have Jeremy Hunt and Justine Greening. 

Take action: Sign the petition to Theresa May now

12 Responses to Public servants don’t care about political games – They just need a pay rise

  1. Janet Portman
    Jul 1st 2017, 11:51 am

    Safety will fall in the fire service for the staff and those who they help. The same is true of the NHS where safety of patients is compromised the reduction in numbers of nurses and doctors. This again also has an effect on the health of these staff.

  2. Martin Bedford
    Jul 3rd 2017, 2:29 pm

    I fully understand the strong feelings I am a public employee and have suffered the same fate.

  3. Robert Cormack
    Jul 3rd 2017, 3:19 pm

    Increase all public employees
    wages now.

  4. Robert Cormack
    Jul 3rd 2017, 3:20 pm

    Increase all public employees wages now.

  5. Paul Billingham
    Jul 3rd 2017, 3:22 pm

    As A Trades Union Branch Secretary, I have seen nurses going to food banks, NHS employees having homes repossessed and morale slip to an all time low. I drive to work on A roads which have become cart tracks due to no repairs and have even used Union funds for school uniforms and buying basics for public employees. Its time to make a stand. I have seen this before in the early 1970’s, where government feels that suppressing wages will end inflation and bring about a super state for those rich enough to to be above poverty. This failed then and must surely fail now. Now is OUR time to react.

  6. Nicci
    Jul 3rd 2017, 4:59 pm

    End the Crime of Captured Wage Cuts in Our UK Public Sector. Any government who allows our Public Services staff to be so demoralised by poverty need a wake up call. Pushing people so far into poverty that they’re having to leave the jobs they’re trained for and passionate about, like nursing and firefighting, is disgraceful. Change it now and demonstrate some integrity.

  7. divyan desai
    Jul 3rd 2017, 7:27 pm

    Just like you I have had no rise for 7 years because of Tory cuts and staff at my school and other schools are being made redundant

  8. Sew Peng Chen
    Jul 3rd 2017, 10:17 pm

    I support your petition

  9. All public sector workers deserve a pay rise – including backroom staff
    Jul 4th 2017, 12:06 pm

    […] The tragic events of the last few months have shown the dedication of firefighters, police officers, nurses and other emergency services staff. They have all had their pay cut, in real terms, over the last seven years. […]

  10. Philip Bobin
    Jul 11th 2017, 2:00 pm

    It should not be an issue…all public sector workers (except those sitting in snug offices of course) deserve to earn huge amounts of money and I am more than willing to give a few shillings more in tax each month to keep them in the lifestyle to which they SHOULD become accustomed. Wonderful people, doing such brilliant jobs. I take my hat off to them every time.

  11. Christina Mullender
    Jul 12th 2017, 9:44 am

    why are the essential service staff always so underpayed and undervalued?

  12. John Williams
    Aug 7th 2017, 2:59 pm

    Austerity simply hasn’t worked. Vast majority worse off but the countries worse off and they’ve made no in-roads into the actual deficit. Austerity and holding wages down is a political not economical decision. We’re far less safe with the cuts to the police, the fire brigades, the NHS is on the verge of collapse, soon to be followed by our Education system. The Government’s austerity program simply hasn’t worked and the whole of the public sector needs a wage rise to get the economy going and to allow people to do more than survive.