Government abolishes public sector pay cap

Unions have been campaigning for a big increase in public sector pay
Nick Ansell  Nick Ansell

The leader of Britain's biggest union has warned that coordinated strikes by workers in the public sector was "on the cards" in protest at the government's pay cap.

The POA prison officers' union said it was seeking industrial action over an offer which it said effectively amounted to a pay cut and would leave a majority of staff with rises of just 1.3%.

Asked on Monday if the public sector pay cap was still in place, the prime minister's spokesman said the pay review process was continuing.

It is thought this will be possible with an increase in Government spending.

The government has made a decision to lift the 1% pay cap on the public sector, although at the moment we don't know by how much, except for the police and prison officers.

Prison officers will get a 1.7% rise while police will get a 1% pay rise plus a 1% bonus for the year, paid for from existing departmental budgets. It is not acceptable.

Four unions tabled motions to this week's Trades Union Congress in Brighton calling for some kind of nationally coordinated action, which were then included in a composite motion.

Speaking before the Treasury's announcement, the association's general secretary Steve Gillan said any below-inflation pay rise would be unacceptable as its members played a "vital role in keeping society safe" and had to feed their families and pay their mortgages.

However the government recognizes that in some parts of the public sector, particularly in areas of skill shortage, more flexibility may be required, ' the No. 10 spokesman said.

Public sector pay was frozen for two years in 2010, except for those earning less than £21,000 a year, and since 2013, rises have been capped at 1% - below the rate of inflation.

However, with other public sector workers having to wait longer for any increases, unions now meeting this week for their annual congress have warned industrial action could follow as a "last resort". Today's announcement means bills will continue to rise faster than their wages.

The pay rises are based on recommendations from the respective pay review bodies.

Mr Corbyn denounced the Government's announcement as an attempt to play "divide and rule" with public sector workers, and promised that Labour would ditch the cap across the board. "We must be united in breaking the pay cap for all workers". A pay cut is a pay cut.

Unison general secretary, Dave Prentis, said: "It's a tiny step in the right direction but not almost enough".

But the PM's official spokesman confirmed the Sun's revelations from a fortnight ago, that there will soon be higher pay deals for nurses, teachers and other workers in 2018-2019.

Last month, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the 1% cap would be scrapped from next year.

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