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Monday 19th
posted by Peter Lazenby in Britain

UNISON is stepping up campaigning to scrap the public-sector pay cap following the shock election vote, Dave Prentis said yesterday.

Speaking ahead of its annual conference tomorrow, the union’s general secretary said Labour’s success had led to a growing belief that years of austerity can be reversed.

The government has capped annual public-sector pay rises at 1 per cent until 2020, but Labour’s general election manifesto pledged to end the cap.

Mr Prentis said: “We will now have a big push to improve the pay of public-sector workers.

“We are living in a completely unfair society and people are sick and tired of policies in favour of the very rich in our society when they are finding it difficult to put food on the table.

“They earn less now than they did eight years ago.”

Other unions have echoed the sentiment, with the GMB and Unite warning that public-sector workers’ living standards have “plummeted” in eight years of government-imposed pay restraint.

The three unions, Britain’s biggest, have submitted a 5 per cent pay claim on behalf of local government workers.

Mr Prentis said Unison will launch a campaign to highlight how much workers have lost in real terms in recent years and revealed the union will review its industrial action strategy.

Small groups of workers could be called out on strike with a “domino” effect expected against separate employers, he suggested.

“The general election is a turning point in many ways,” said Mr Prentis. “Labour’s campaign showed the impact of cuts and our use of social media to engage huge numbers of people had a major influence.”

A separate study showed yesterday that public-sector workers are increasingly forced to take out extortionate payday loans to survive.

A new poll revealed that 43 per cent of 8,000 visitors to a loans website had already taken five or more payday loans out in the past year.

The study by loans-broker found that of those in employment seeking a loan, the highest number — 27 per cent — work in the public sector in jobs such as nursing, teaching and for local councils.

Readies manager Stephanie Cole said: “The pay squeeze, particularly on public-sector workers, will only serve to increase the number of people turning to payday loans who are already struggling with rising fuel, food and transport costs.”