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Joint strikes planned over public sector pay

Unions are considering coordinated strikes over pay, as they call for Government to suspend its public sector pay freeze.

Unison and the GMB, two of the biggest public sector unions, could develop an alliance to push for more industrial action on this issue.

In the 2011 Autumn Statement, Chancellor George Osborne announced that general pay rises would be restricted to 1% for the next two years. Ministers state this will save £3.3bn a year, which is vital to cut the deficit.

The TUC, which is holding its annual congress in Brighton this week, said that wages across all sectors have not kept pace with economic growth over the last 30 years – leaving the average employee on £7,000 less than they would have been had this not been the case.

Public sector unions agreed that industrial action was a possibility.

TUC leader Brendan Barber said: “The austerity economics of this government fails to learn why the economy crashed. Ministers want to go back to business as usual, continuing to hold down the wages of ordinary employees.”

He added: “It’s clear that austerity simply isn't working. There has been no growth since the Government came to power over two years ago. In effect, the economy has become a gigantic laboratory.”

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “I’ve no doubt whatsoever that, if we cannot talk to this government and negotiate agreement to end the pay freeze, it will lead to industrial action.”

And Paul Kenny, GMB general secretary, said: “It’s time for politicians to treat public sector workers with respect, rather than slagging them off. There comes a point when people say they have had enough.

“People are getting sick of being treated as political footballs. We would co-ordinate [strike action] with any public sector union.”

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Image c. Andy O’Donnell


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