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Britain needs a proper pay rise

Unions’ final plea as Tories deliver Budget

BRITAIN needs a proper pay rise, unions demanded today as new official data showed that the real value of median pay has not increased after more than a decade of Tory rule.

The TUC’s call came ahead of tomorrow’s Budget and Spending Review, and after ministers refused to guarantee that public-sector workers will get a real-terms wage rise despite Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s promise to end their pay freeze.

Annual pay figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that, in the 12 years from 2009 to 2021, the real value of median pay has not increased, and has only just returned to its 2009 value.

This compares to an increase of 24 per cent for the prior 12 years, when Labour was in power.

The figures show the importance of establishing a proper plan for wage growth, the TUC said.

“Everyone who works for a living deserves a decent living,” general secretary Frances O’Grady said. “But the last 12 years have been the worst period for wage growth since Napoleonic times.

“We need a proper plan from the Chancellor to get pay rising across the economy.

“That means a pay rise for all public-sector workers that at least matches the cost of living. 

“If Rishi Sunak does not increase department budgets, the pay freeze will be over in name only.

“And ministers should strengthen rights for workers to bargain for higher pay through their unions, and immediately increase the [national minimum wage] to £10 an hour.”

Ahead of Mr Sunak’s announcement tomorrow, Scottish TUC general secretary Roz Foyer warned that an austerity Budget would be a crushing blow to workers, strangle economic recovery and set the worst possible conditions for green growth.

She condemned the Chancellor’s “smoke-and-mirrors” announcements during the pandemic and demanded a reversal of the National Insurance hike and the cruel £20 universal credit cut.

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said that Mr Sunak’s announcement on ending the public-sector pay freeze was no cause for celebration.

“Unless extra money finds its way to individual government departments, the freeze will continue,” she said. “Any pay rise less than the rate of inflation is effectively a pay cut.

“Ministers must also find the cash to give NHS workers the proper pay award they’ve more than earned.

“That goes for council, school and other public-sector staff who’ve either been offered nothing or substantially less than the cost of living.”

National Education Union joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said the plan to end the one-year freeze was a “big promise, but short on detail.

“The Chancellor must do more than win a day’s headlines. He must make good on this latest pledge to drive up pay for those who kept this country on its feet throughout the pandemic.

“The last time Rishi Sunak addressed public-sector pay, his decisions were not equal.

“Key workers have worked hard throughout the pandemic, but for education staff this will feel like a particularly long road to recognition. The Chancellor cannot let them down again.”

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said that exhausted workers need investment.

“Our public services are at breaking point following years of cuts and wage assaults,” she said.

“If the Chancellor’s figures are found to be a combination of reannounced money and misleading claims, that will be an insult to workers and service users. 

“We need a real change of direction to build high-quality universal public services which treat their workers with respect.”

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