Two million public sector workers are facing a real pay cut today as ministers try to get a grip on them inflation which the unions have already warned will lead to strikes and layoffs.
Whitehall sources said wage review bodies, which include doctors, nurses, soldiers, the police and a range of other occupations, would recommend comparisons of three to five per cent.
But that’s far less than the 16% that nurses are demanding, the Royal College of Nursing said, and less than the above-mentioned increase in inflation, which the UK’s largest union, UNISON, has also been demanding of its workers.
Today, Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi will advocate halting wage increases to stop fueling demand and putting a greater strain on the cost of living.
The proposed settlements are well below projected inflation levels, which are expected to peak at 11 percent this fall.
The plans put ministers on a collision course with the big public sector unions, which have warned of an autumn of industrial action.
Public sector workers and members of Unison gather outside the Houses of Parliament in central London back in 2014
Only newly qualified teachers are expected to get a more significant boost as part of the Tory manifesto, which aims to raise starting salaries to £30,000 by the next election.
A Whitehall source admitted wage deals would be difficult for many but said it was important for the government to get inflation under control.
“Wage review bodies are independent, but they have to consider what is affordable,” the source said.
“You will see that most settlements are in the three to five percent range. It’s going to be tough for people. But we have to do things responsibly, and the alternative – letting inflation get out of control – hurts people’s incomes even more in the long run.”
The plans put ministers on a collision course with the big public sector unions, which have warned of an autumn of industrial action
Today’s salary reviews are for doctors and dentists, nurses, teachers, prison officials, members of the armed forces, judges and senior civil servants.
Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi will today advocate wage moderation, The Telegraph has said.
The newspaper said Mr Zahawi would say: “That means providing sound public finances to keep demand from spiking even higher and helping households coping with the worst price hikes in over a generation.
“And where we can, to ease the supply constraints that are at the root of high inflation. The country should be confident that we can and will bring inflation under control again.”
But Pat Cullen, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, which is seeking a 16 per cent increase, said nurses would “consider industrial action if ministers don’t budge”, according to the Daily Mail.
She said: “There are tens of thousands of vacancies in the nursing profession and unfair treatment will push more out of the profession.”
Separately, a three-day strike due to start tomorrow has been called off by Royal Mail managers, who are affiliated with the Unite union. The union’s 2,400 Royal Mail members accepted proposals on jobs, pay and conditions in a vote almost two to one. However, Unite said the dispute is not over.
Whitehall sources said salary review bodies, which include doctors, nurses, soldiers, the police and a range of other professions, would recommend comparisons of three to five percent
The UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members covering public services in education, local government, the NHS, police services and energy, has also suggested it could result in staff losing their jobs.
UNISON health chief and NHS union group leader Sara Gorton said: “Health workers struggling to pay bills have waited months for the boost they should have received in the spring.
“The public clearly supports a above-inflation pay rise across the NHS. People say they would also stand behind NHS workers should they decide to strike unless a decent raise is forthcoming. Ministers must act now rather than get caught up in a row no one wants to see.
“The government must come up with the money it needs or risk exacerbating the current staffing crisis and increasing wait times for patients to be tested and treated.”
Elaine Sparkes, deputy director of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and secretary of the NHS union group, said: “The NHS is facing a staffing crisis and it is unthinkable that the Government could consider making it worse by offering a pay rise well below inflation .
“That would lead to the departure of more employees, increasing the burden on those who remain and increasing waiting times for patients.
“The government must move forward with a wage increase above inflation that will help recruit and, importantly, retain the workforce that patients desperately need.”