What unions said about today’s #payrise

The government today announced pay rises of between 2.8 and 3.1% for nearly 900,000 public sector workers.

Here’s what unions thought of the news:

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “These rises are welcome, but there’s still a long way to go to restore pay after a decade of real terms cuts. Many public sector workers – like job centre staff and local government workers – aren’t getting these rises. They deserve a decent pay settlement too.

“And the government should urgently announce a pay rise for social care workers, who put their lives on the line to care for others during this pandemic.”

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “The dedication and hugely important part played by all NHS, care, council, police and school staff during the pandemic is clear for all to see. But pay rises must be funded or already-stretched public services will feel an even greater pinch.

“The government must show its appreciation by coming up with the cash now to give the rest of the NHS staff – including nurses, porters, ambulance crew and cleaners – an early pay rise this year. Local authorities also need proper funding so council, school support staff and care workers can get a well-deserved wages boost too.

“Investment in staff and public services now will help boost the economy and ensure the UK’s in a better position to withstand a possible second wave.”

RCM executive director for external relations Jon Skewes said: “Midwives, MSWs and many of their NHS colleagues are not included in today’s announcement. The RCM and other health unions are calling on the government to bring forward a pay deal set for April 2021, and to negotiate a much more substantial increase for these staff.

“This should recognise the urgent need to recruit more staff into the NHS, retain those we already have and restore real earnings. The Chancellor cannot ignore this call any longer.

“The massive contribution and dedication of our NHS workers during the pandemic has shown just how valuable they are. It is now time to give midwives, maternity support workers and other NHS staff the early and substantial pay rise they deserve.”

POA national chair Mark Fairhurst said: “For a second consecutive year the government has refused to implement all the recommendations of a Pay Review Body that they appoint. Lower paid members will be frustrated that an opportunity to partly achieve pay parity has been missed.

“Since 2010 my members have suffered pay freezes, increased pension contributions and unprecedented levels of violence. Now is the perfect opportunity to sit down and rectify a failed pay model whilst achieving workforce and retirement age reform. The POA stand ready to negotiate a future package”.

POA general secretary Steve Gillan said: “If the government believes this pay award makes up for the pain of the last ten years then it is hugely mistaken. The 2.5 % is welcome but does not remedy the loss in pay and benefits of the past. Our NEC will be studying all the recommendations in the coming days in order to hold the government to account.”

Unite national officer for local government Jim Kennedy said: “What the chancellor has announced for 900,000 public sector employees is a step in the right direction and a recognition of the vital role they have played in the fight against coronavirus.

“But the chancellor has a selective memory when it comes to finding cash for local government employers to pay their workers a decent pay rise – they are the forgotten army of public service.

“Council  workers –including schools, refuse collection, cemeteries, child protection, and the care of our elderly and vulnerable – have been working throughout the pandemic. They are the glue that keeps services for local communities running on a daily basis through good times and bad.

“However, currently the employers are offering their staff in England, Wales and Northern Ireland a derisory and insulting £1.83p a day – and this has to be seen in the context of a decade of attacks on pay and conditions that has resulted in a 20 per cent cut in pay in real terms in local government over the last 10 years.

“We know the public is appreciative and supportive of our frontline workforce. Unfortunately, neither Rishi Sunak nor the local government employers are mirroring public opinion.

“If the government is serious about ‘levelling up’ society, the chancellor needs to find the money to fund a decent pay rise for council workers.”

GMB acting general secretary John Phillips said: “Today’s announcement does nothing for the vast majority of public sector workers. Low-paid support staff will not see their wages rise, and NHS workers remain stuck on a pay settlement that has meant real-terms cuts for long-serving staff.

“These recommendations will affect just 20% of England’s 4.4 million public sector workers. If the Government was serious about recognising the sacrifices made by public sector workers then they’d ensure desperately needed pay rises for all groups.

“Many of our NHS staff, teaching assistants, local authority workers, care workers and civil servants are struggling to pay the bills after a decade of real terms pay cuts. Words are hollow without actions.”

Responding to the 5.5% teacher pay increase, NEU joint general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said: “The government has presented teachers with a curate’s egg in today’s announcement. Raising starting salaries by 5.5% should make the profession more attractive to graduates.  But the prospect of salaries tapering off as they progress through the profession means that progress made in recruiting teachers will not be sustained in retaining them.

“More experienced teachers and leaders must see their immense hard work and efforts rewarded fairly, and this pay award does not do that.  The NEU asked for a 7% pay rise for all teachers. This award does not achieve this entirely reasonable ambition. It is already the case that 22% of teachers leave teaching within 2 years.  This is an awful waste which impacts most directly on disadvantaged children who most need teachers.  We will not begin to close the attainment gap until we keep teachers in the profession.

“Without full funding by the government, for many teachers the pay increases announced in previous years have existed only in theory.  The dismantling of the national pay structure, imposition of PRP and real-terms funding cuts have resulted in many teachers not getting the cost-of-living increases announced in previous years.  NEU called for a fully-funded 7% increase in September and we reiterate this call.”

Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: “After years of pay freezes the pay rise for public sector workers was long-overdue and it is only right the Government has recognised their enormous contribution during a time of national crisis.

“At the start of the pandemic, after lobbying from Usdaw, the government recognised that retail workers were ‘key workers’ as they were instrumental in keeping the food supply chain going. Their contribution cannot fade into the background when the national crisis passes.

“It is now time for the government to recognise that these workers have been undervalued for too long. We need a new deal for the workers: a minimum wage of at least £10 per hour, an end to insecure employment, respect for shopworkers and action to ensure that retail jobs are no longer underpaid and undervalued.”

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