Work­ers vow to strike un­less govern­ment lifts con­tro­ver­sial pay cap

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - - BY ALAN JONES

THE govern­ment is fac­ing the grow­ing threat of co-or­di­nated strikes by public sec­tor work­ers un­less it lifts its con­tro­ver­sial cap on pay.

Unions across the UK are press­ing for a 5% in­crease for mil­lions of nurses, teach­ers, coun­cil staff, civil ser­vants and other work­ers who have been sub­jected to a pay freeze or 1% cap for seven years.

Mark Ser­wotka, leader of the Public and Commercial Ser­vices union, made a pas­sion­ate plea for an end to pay re­straint dur­ing a de­bate at the TUC Congress in Brighton.

He had a heart trans­plant last year and praised the many NHS staff who looked af­ter him.

The PCS is bal­lot­ing all its mem­bers on in­dus­trial ac­tion, a move be­ing fol­lowed by some mem­bers of the Prison Of­fi­cers As­so­ci­a­tion in special hos­pi­tals and con­trol rooms.

Mr Ser­wotka said PCS mem­bers had suf­fered a 10% pay cut be­cause of the cap, ris­ing to 20% by 2020.

“There is a cri­sis in public sec­tor pay and now is the time for ac­tion,” he said.

“Wouldn’t it be great if we could have co-or­di­nated bal­lots in the run-up to the Bud­get.”

Uni­son gen­eral sec­re­tary Dave Pren­tis said: “We’ve seen years of bru­tal aus­ter­ity and vi­cious at­tacks on public ser­vices, over­seen by an un­car­ing govern­ment whose pay poli­cies are caus­ing real hard­ship.

“In the first six years of Con­ser­va­tive rule, public sec­tor pay rose by just 4.4%, yet the cost of liv­ing soared by 22%, and to rub salt into those wounds, the pay of top bosses rose by a third in one year alone.

“Whilst the rich feather their nests, public ser­vice work­ers strug­gle to af­ford the ba­sics. The govern­ment call it pru­dence and re­straint — I call it in­hu­man.

“We must com­mit to march­ing, de­mon­strat­ing and lob­by­ing — not just in West­min­ster, but also in Belfast, Cardiff and Ed­in­burgh.

“We need public events in ev­ery ma­jor city and town to change the face of pol­i­tics and hold Con­ser­va­tive MPS to ac­count in their own back yards, and joint bal­lots for in­dus­trial ac­tion if all else fails.”

Gail Cart­mail of Unite said the cap on public sec­tor pay was “con­tam­i­nat­ing” many pri­vate firms who have fol­lowed suit.

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