It's not just police officers who deserve betterby Frances O'Grady / September 11, 2017 / Leave a comment
Nurses, fire-fighters, midwives and many other hardworking public sector servants have sent the prime minister a powerful message this week. The annual Trade Union Congress has voted to demand an end to seven long years of Conservative-led governments holding down their pay.
Britain’s five million public servants have each lost on average £3,000 from the value of their annual pay since 2010. The public sector pay cap has pushed some nurses into food banks to get by.
This week, rumours abound that ministers are set to announce an end to the 1 per cent cap on pay rises. But only for police and prison officers. It may not yet be the end of the policy, but it could be the beginning of the end.
Trade unions will not accept cherry-picking. Police and prison officers deserve a proper pay rise, but so do nurses, teachers, midwives, and all the backroom staff who make their jobs possible. Every public sector worker is long overdue a proper pay rise.
The cracks are appearing because the government has utterly lost the argument. The public think the pay restrictions are unfair, and the government knows it. Theresa May’s MPs heard it again and again on the doorstep during the election, and it helped lose the PM her majority.
The prime minister may “note the sacrifice” that public servants have made. But it’s not a sacrifice at all—they had no choice. And a political choice could end change that tomorrow.
Across a range of motions, the message from delegates this week is clear: public sector pay must rise. Representatives from across the union movement, including those representing private sector workers, passed motions calling for the pay cap to end. And they highlighted the damage it has done to working households in general, to the NHS and healthcare, to schools and education funding.
The TUC has set out five tests that the government must meet to give public sector servants a fair pay deal.
Pay decisions must be taken out of the hands of Whitehall. No more top down restrictions on pay delivered from on high. Instead, public sector workers and their representatives should be free to negotiate with their employers to find a fair and appropriate pay award. This should happen through collective bargaining, or following the advice of genuinely independent pay review bodies.