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Public sector strikes possible over pay freeze

The leader of Unison is to warn of possible strike action over public sector pay at the union’s annual conference in Bournemouth. Dave Prentis is launching a fair pay campaign, as it suggests many of its members are finding money a main concern.

A two-year pay freeze was announced in the 2010 Budget, with those earning £21,000 or less receiving an increase of £250 a year. In the 2011 Autumn Statement pay was then set at an average of 1% for the two years that follow the current pay freeze.

Prentis will say: “Our demand is for decent pay, for fair pay. And if we can’t win fair pay through negotiations we will fight to win it through strike action if necessary.

“We will campaign on this through the autumn. We will work with other unions and we will generate the strength of feeling that will make people sit up and listen. And if that means that eventually we move to industrial action, we will have no hesitation but to move to industrial action.”

A Treasury spokesperson said: “Given the wider pressures on the public finances, public sector pay awards will average 1% for the two years following the pay freeze. This will help to protect public sector jobs, while many public servants will continue to see progression increases of up to 7%.”

It comes as Downing Street indicated on Monday that the Government was preparing to embark on a U-turn over plans to introduce local pay to the public sector. The prime minister’s spokeswoman said: “Our case is unless there is strong evidence to support it – and there is a rational case for it – then it won’t change.”

Unison believes that introducing regional pay would increase bureaucracy, lead to staff shortages and hit local economies and families.

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