Sunak mulls public sector pay freeze for millions

Marco Green
November 21, 2020

"On the very day we discover the government is planning a pay freeze for millions of workers, GMB is gearing up to lodge a judicial review against the government decision to swindle public sector workers of their pensions should they leave their employment due to redundancy".

It's understood only frontline NHS doctors and nurses will be exempt from the cap in recognition of their work during the coronavirus pandemic.

"We call for a generous financial settlement for the more than five million employees in the public sector and we know that such pay increases will be spent in the local economies boosting the hospitality sector and the country's beleaguered high streets once the national lockdown restrictions are eased next month".

Boris Johnson's election pledge to raise newly qualified teachers' pay to £30,000 appeared in doubt on Friday as Rishi Sunak prepares to usher in "pay restraint" across the public sector.

Frances O'Grady, leader of the Trades Union Congress, added: "TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "A pay freeze would be a bitter pill for care workers, refuse collectors, emergency workers and all the key workers in the public sector who have helped keep the country going through this pandemic".

The news that the chancellor could be considering a public sector wage freeze has been widely criticised by unions.

"If Rishi Sunak fails to pay public-sector workers properly, there will be widespread anger and industrial action can not be ruled out".

He said: "This isn't about fairness at all".

Its report, Public sector pay: the case for restraint, argues that private sector workers have suffered far more than public sector staff since the pandemic began, and that freezing public sector pay for three years would ensure the labour market is not "unfairly weighted" towards the public sector.

"This is a predictable attempt at divide and rule in the middle of a pandemic". Police officers, prison officers, school support staff, teachers, head teachers, DWP workers, hospital ancillary staff, have all put their lives on the line this year and they all deserve a pay rise.

"So should the delivery drivers for big supermarkets. We are supposed to be all in this together as working people".

Mr Courtney warned that a pay freeze would also worsen recruitment problems in education, which the government promised to tackle through salary increases.

The Treasury has also taken interest in a report by the Centre for Policy Studies that suggested a three-year freeze could save £23bn by 2023, or £15bn if NHS workers were exempt.

"The government must do what's right next week and announce the wage rise all staff have more than earned", he said.

"This is just not on".

"Key workers across all public services remain at the heart of the fight against Covid".

Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy said a further pay freeze would be "seen as an insult and have a devastating impact".

The Treasury would not comment on the reports ahead of the Chancellor's statement on Wednesday.

"The government needs to rethink", he said. "Freezing pay will leave people anxious about making ends meet - that means they'll cut back on spending and the economy will take longer to recover".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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