Unions accuse government over future public sector pay restraint

Unions have accused the Treasury of a ‘cynical ploy’ after details of a letter from the Chancellor to government departments became public yesterday that reveal plans for future years of public sector pay restraint.

The fresh information follows a press statement this morning by the Treasury announcing above inflation pay rises for a single year. But it made no mention of the plans for future years of pay restraint. And it covered fewer than one in five public sector workers.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s hard to see how public sector workers can trust ministers after this cynical ploy to disguise plans for more pay restraint.

“In the last decade, we learned the hard way that austerity and pay restraint slow down recovery. People have less to spend. Businesses have fewer customers. And it holds back growth.

“If ministers take this failed approach again, the living standards of both public and private sector workers will take a hit. And the key workers who saw us through the pandemic will be denied the pay rises they have earned. That’s no way to thank key workers.

“The prime minister promised no austerity after the pandemic. We need a recovery plan based on decent jobs with fair pay.”

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “The fanfare announcement of more pay for some public service workers was clearly just a smoke screen for something altogether more sinister.

“Talking of holding down pay for all the NHS workers – including nurses, paramedics, cleaners, porters and healthcare assistants – and the care, school and council staff who’ve all given so much in the past few months will go down like a lead balloon with the public.

“People are expecting something very different. They want ministers to show proper appreciation for NHS staff and come up with the money for an early pay rise this year, not treat them in such an underhand way.

“Public services have been at the heart of the fight against the virus. More money in the pockets of health, care, school and council workers will help the economy back on its feet.

“Investing in staff and services now will mean the NHS, local authorities and care homes are better prepared for a second surge. And that’s something that every single one of us will want to see.”

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