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UNIONS renewed calls for better public-sector and key worker pay today as latest figures revealed inflation is rising faster than their wages.
Britain’s rate of inflation soared to its highest for almost three years in June on the back of increases in the prices of food and motor fuel.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the consumer prices index (CPI) rose to 2.5 per cent from a figure of 2.1 per cent the previous month, moving further away from the Bank of England’s 2 per cent target.
The TUC called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to end unfair pay restrictions, hitting key workers the hardest, that are keeping workers’ wages below rising prices.
General secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Lots of workers will find that prices are rising faster than their pay, especially public-sector workers facing a pay freeze or 1 per cent rise only.”
GMB general secretary Gary Smith demanded that the government ensured that public-sector workers were not left on poverty pay.
He said: “Rising inflation compounds the pay cut misery the UK government is imposing on NHS and local government workers in England, eats away at the minimal value of increases and offers on the table for key workers in Scotland, and puts the finances of all workers across our regions and nations under even more pressure after a wretched year.”
National Education Union joint general secretary Kevin Courtney urged for a “significant gear-change” from the Chancellor.
He said: “Education staff have endured real-terms pay cuts for a decade and a pay freeze is simply unsustainable.”
Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: “As the inflation rate rises, those who will be bearing the brunt are those who have seen their incomes squeezed by being made redundant during the pandemic, or being placed on furlough.
“Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak are continuing to use public-sector pay restraint as a key tool in the cruel decade-long Tory austerity policy, as seen by the insulting 1 per cent pay rise the government recommended for NHS staff, exhausted by the fight against coronavirus.
“Public-sector workers have been the glue that has held society together for the last 17 months, whether in the NHS, schools and colleges, or local government — they deserve to be recognised for their heroic efforts by above-inflation pay rises: the majority of which will be spent in their local communities and high streets.”
UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “NHS, care, council, police and school staff have given their all to keep vital services running throughout the pandemic.
"But the rising cost of living is making it increasingly hard for people to pay bills or afford their weekly shop.
“After such a tough year, this will undoubtedly be the last straw for some. The government must scrap the public sector pay freeze, give staff a decent wage rise or risk people leaving their roles altogether."
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