What happens when you lift pay cap... nurses demand 4% rise and £800 each
MORE than a million NHS staff have demanded an aboveinflation pay rise after the Government axed the 1 per cent pay cap for police and prison officers.
Leaders of 14 health unions have written to Chancellor Philip Hammond to demand staff get a 3.9 per cent increase and an £800 bonus.
But the pay rise would cost around £2.5billion and could lead to similar claims from other public- sector workers ahead of the Budget in November.
Despite the row over the public-sector cap, critics have pointed out that studies show public- sector workers are still better paid on average than privatesector workers – many of whom have not had a pay rise for several years.
After ministers lifted the 1 per cent cap for police and prison officers this week,
Downing Street indicated that its seven-year pay freeze was effectively over for all.
But unions still reacted angrily, threatening co - ordinated and possibly illegal strikes and demanding across- the- board, above- inflation pay increases.
Yesterday, it emerged that nurses and health workers had demanded a pay rise in line with the retail price index of inflation, which is 3.9 per cent – far higher than the alternative CPI inflation rate, which is 2.9 per cent.
The letter to Mr Hammond was signed by unions including Unison, Unite and the GMB, as well as the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Midwives and The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.
The unions claim members have been hit by real-terms pay cuts in recent years because of the Government’s ‘harsh pay policies’.
They say pay has fallen by 15 per cent since 2010 once inflation is taken into account, and the bonus would restore some of the pay lost over the past seven years of pay restraint.
Sara Gorton, from Unison, said: ‘Health workers have gone without a proper pay rise for far too long.
‘Their wages continue to fall behind inflation as food and fuel bills, housing and transport costs rise.
‘NHS staff and their families need a pay award that stops the rot and starts to restore some of the earnings that have been missed out on.’
The unions said NHS workers including cleaners, nurses, radiographers, pharmacists, midwives, paramedics, therapists, dental technicians, caterers and porters effectively had pay cuts.
The 1 per cent pay cap was due to run until 2020 as the centrepiece of the Government’s austerity programme.
But ministers announced this week that the policy would be axed, and police would receive a 2 per cent rise, while prison officers received 1.7 per cent.
However, another report this week confirmed that public-sector staff were paid more than those in the private sector.
The study by the Social Market Foundation think- tank found those in the private sector earned £9 a week less, on average, than public- sector staff.
James Price, from the Tax-Payers’ Alliance campaign group, said: ‘Those calling for higher public- sector pay fail to admit that public-sector employee pay is already more than 11 per cent higher than those in the private sector whose taxes will pay for these increases.’
He added: ‘We are still borrowing tens of billions a year more than we take in, and that debt will have to be paid for by future generations.
‘A balance must be struck between frontline workers who work very hard, taxpayers who have to pay for them and wasteful spending that needs to stop.’
Public-sector pay is set by independent review bodies who recommend the level of earnings to the Government.
Last night, a spokesman for the Government said: ‘Publicsector workers, including NHS staff, do a fantastic job, and the Government is committed to ensuring they can continue to deliver world- class public services.
‘The Government will continue to ensure that the overall package is fair while also being affordable to taxpayers as a whole.’
‘Pay award that stops the rot’ ‘Still borrowing billions’
Protest: Nurses demonstrating in Parliament Square against the 1 per cent pay cap