Union bosses are urging Rishi Sunak to bring forward a massive pay rise for public sector workers after the chancellor confirmed a budget wage freeze will be lifted.
A year-long ‘pause’ for wage increases is coming to an end, but ministers have refused to guarantee workers will receive a real raise amid mounting cost of living pressures.
The TUC union has told the chancellor he must come up with a “wage increase for all public sector workers at least equivalent to the cost of living”.
The union also warned that the wage increases must be paid through new funding and not through existing departmental budgets, warning that otherwise the freeze will end “in name only”.
Meanwhile, UNISON said that “any pay rise that is lower than inflation is effectively a pay cut.” The last measure of consumer price inflation came in at 3.1 percent.
Union bosses urge Rishi Sunak to put forward massive pay rise for public sector workers after chancellor confirms wage freeze will be lifted in budget
A year-long ‘pause’ for wage increases is coming to an end, but ministers have refused to guarantee workers will receive a real raise amid mounting cost of living pressures. Figures from the House of Commons Library show that the average salary in the public sector is higher than that of the private sector
Mr Sunak said the UK economy is now “firmly back on track” after the coronavirus pandemic, allowing him to ease wage moderation in the public sector.
The chancellor will confirm tomorrow that he will lift the public sector salary freeze from the budget tomorrow, paving the way for a possible pay rise next year for more than five million workers, including teachers, nurses, police and armed forces.
The Chancellor ‘paused’ public sector pay increases for 2021/22, with the exception of the NHS and those earning less than £24,000, after heavy borrowing during the Covid-19 crisis.
Mr Sunak said last night that with the economy picking up again after the virus restrictions were lifted, it was ‘good’ that frontline workers ‘would see their wages rise’.
But there’s no guarantee the increase will outweigh the rising cost of living, meaning workers could feel even worse off.
Mr Sunak has not set out how much wages will increase by, and the increases will be announced next year following recommendations from independent wage review bodies.
Downing Street declined to be pulled, insisting that the “process is for independent payroll review bodies.”
The government had already announced it will raise the minimum wage for around two million workers, with their wages rising from £8.91 an hour to £9.50 from 1 April.
But critics have wondered how much better off workers will be, given that the Chancellor has already increased national insurance and reduced universal credit as inflation rises.
The TUC said average earnings had only just returned to 2009 levels when it urged the chancellor to be generous.
TUC Secretary General Frances O’Grady said: ‘Everyone who works for a living earns a decent income. But the past 12 years have been the worst period for wage growth since the Napoleonic era.
“We need a good plan from the Chancellor tomorrow to raise wages across the economy.
“That means a pay increase for all public sector workers that is at least equivalent to the cost of living. If Rishi Sunak doesn’t increase department budgets, the pay freeze will be over in name only.
“And ministers should strengthen workers’ rights to negotiate higher wages through their unions, and immediately raise the NMW to £10 an hour.”
UNISON Secretary General Christina McAnea said, “This is no cause for celebration. A wage freeze should never have been imposed in the first place.
“Unless additional money finds its way into individual government departments, the freeze will continue. Any wage increase that is less than inflation is effectively a wage decrease.
Ministers also need to find the money to give NHS workers the right rewards they have more than deserved. That applies to municipal, school and other public sector personnel who have received nothing or considerably less than the cost of living.’
In a statement announcing his decision to lift the public sector wage freeze, Mr Sunak said: “The economic impact and uncertainty of the virus meant we had to make the difficult decision to suspend public sector wages. to make.
“Together with our Jobs Plan, this action has helped us protect our livelihoods at the height of the pandemic.
“And now that the economy is back on track, it is only right that nurses, teachers and all other public sector workers who played their part during the pandemic are seeing their wages rise.”
Officials said the government will ask for “full recommendations” from the respective sectoral paying agencies, with prices to be announced next year.