What hap­pens when you lift pay cap... nurses de­mand 4% rise and £800 each

Daily Mail - - News - By Claire El­li­cott Po­lit­i­cal Cor­re­spon­dent c.el­li­cott@dai­ly­mail.co.uk

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

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