Union anger over possible 5% wage offer to public sector workers
Unions have reacted angrily to suggestions that the government will offer a 5% pay rise next week for public sector workers, including nurses.
Health unions have been waiting months for a decision on wages after the NHS Pay Review Body made its recommendation to ministers earlier this year.
The Financial Times has reported that a 5% pay rise will be announced next week, just before Parliament recesses for the summer recess.
Unions have pushed for a decent pay rise amid soaring inflation and staff shortages they blame on low wages.
Royal College of Nursing general secretary Pat Cullen said: “Millions of optimistic workers are hoping these overwhelming reports are totally inaccurate. Their work and their current personal difficulties deserve better from the government.
“Nursing staff would not find this acceptable remotely. Years of pay cuts for ministers are not expected to be capped by a further drop in salaries in real terms.
“There are tens of thousands of vacancies for nursing and this treatment is pushing the profession further away.
“Our members in Scotland have an offer of this level on the table and we have spoken against it – asking members to reject it and consider industrial action if ministers do not move.
“Westminster ministers always have the opportunity to see the writing on the wall and do the right thing while breastfeeding.”
Unison health chief Sara Gorton said: ‘A pay rise below inflation will not be enough to persuade disillusioned health workers to stay in the NHS.
“If more staff leave, the health service will soon be unable to cope, which will further lengthen queues for tests and treatment.
“Ministers must act on pay to protect the NHS, patients and staff, and avoid the prospect of a dispute no one wants.”
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘The unions will be looking very closely at the details of any offer because this prime minister cannot trust public sector wages.
“Our incredible public servants – who have helped us through the pandemic – have already endured a decade of pay freezes and cuts.
“With Britain in the midst of the worst cost of living crisis for generations and rampant inflation, public sector workers cannot afford to keep their wages down again.”
A government spokesman said: ‘The government wants a fair pay deal for nurses, doctors and the taxpayer, and is carefully considering the recommendations of independent pay review bodies.
“We are hugely grateful to all NHS staff and they received a 3 per cent pay rise last year – raising nurses’ pay by an average of £1,000 despite a public sector pay freeze, and we are granting NHS workers another pay rise this year.