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Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Budget: Millions of public sector workers 'let down' over pay cap, say Unions

Written by Alan Jones

Unions have attacked the Chancellor for "letting down" millions of public sector workers over the controversial cap on their pay.

Philip Hammond raised the prospect of increases for NHS staff, but only if productivity is improved.

Unions representing other public sector workers including council staff, civil servants and teachers have been campaigning for a decent wage rise amid warnings of strikes.

The Treasury said the Budget commits to fund pay awards as part of a deal in the NHS under a so-called agenda for change agreement, including nurses, midwives and paramedics.

Recommendations from pay review bodies on the salaries of some public sector workers will be considered next spring and summer.

Dave Prentis (pictured), general secretary of Unison, said: "The Chancellor says he wants to make Britain 'fit for the future' - but his deeply disappointing Budget has left public services gasping for air.

"All public sector workers needed a real pay rise today, not yet another letdown. Healthcare assistants, care workers, school receptionists and other public servants struggling to get by can't survive on wages that bump along at the bottom while prices soar.

"The hopes of NHS staff may have been raised slightly, but there's no actual money on the table.

"This is still a long way from the across-the-board pay rise needed to save our public services.

"Dedicated public service employees deserve so much more than pats on the back. It's time they and the hospitals, schools and councils they work for saw the colour of the Chancellor's money. It's time for the Government to pay up now."

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "The Chancellor had almost nothing to say to hard-working public servants, who are facing a real pay cut for the eighth year in a row.

"The Chancellor has raised hopes in the NHS, but has left other public sector workers out in the cold.

"The Chancellor should have done the right thing and properly funded a real pay rise across the public sector."

Janet Davies, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "The Chancellor has clearly listened to the tens of thousands of nursing staff who've been campaigning for fair pay, and he was right to address their concerns.

"Promising the NHS additional money for nursing pay is welcome but Philip Hammond must make it a meaningful pay rise.

"The NHS has been running on the goodwill of its staff for too long, and with more talk of reform and productivity, Hammond runs the risk of insulting nurses who regularly stay at work unpaid after 12-hour shifts. Their goodwill will not last indefinitely."

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "Services like our NHS, schools and police services face becoming ragged shadows of what they once were.

"Public sector workers, whose wages have been drained by thousands since the Tories took office, cannot provide for their families with warm words for their selfless service.

"All public sector workers need the pay cap lifted now and a properly funded pay rise, not a pick and mix where only a chosen few see an end to the relentless pay shrinkage."

Tim Roache, general secretary of the GMB union, said: "The public sector pay cap remains, bringing misery to thousands of front line workers who spend their lives teaching our kids, keeping us safe and looking after us when we're ill."

Teachers and police officers will be left £3,000 worse off by 2020 due to the Chancellor's "refusal" to lift the public sector pay freeze, according to the Liberal Democrats.

The party said research based on OBR figures showed that a newly qualified teacher on £22,970 will be £3,032 worse off by 2020, a newly trained police officer on £22,962 will be £3,031 worse off, a prison officer starting on £23,572 will be £3,112 worse off and a private starting on £18,488 will be £2,440 worse off.

Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Layla Moran said: "It is outrageous that the Chancellor has asked our dedicated public sector workers to accept another pay cut.

"Aside from his half-hearted offer to nurses - which is by no means guaranteed - our teachers, soldiers and police will see their pay cut yet again.

"They are working long hours and are often put under immense pressure, and this is how ministers thank them for it.

"It is no wonder that we are seeing dedicated teachers, social workers, and other public servants leaving the professions they love."

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