Workforce, Pensions and Training


Five million public sector workers paid less than private sector counterparts

In 2016 five million public sector workers were paid less than the equivalent private sector staff, according to figures obtained by the GMB.

The figures come from a freedom of information request by the union, which showed that the affected members of staff receive 0.6% less than their counterparts in the private sector.

It is the first time since 2005 that public sector staff have been paid less, and is at odds with the idea that a ‘premium’ is placed on these workers.

Comparisons between the two are categorised based on differences in age, gender, job type, region and tenure. In addition to this, the ONS adjusts these estimates based on employers of a similar size.

GMB comparisons also showed that, despite workers already receiving greater contributions from employers to pension schemes, public sector staff on average contributed a greater amount of their own wages into their pensions.

GMB national secretary for Public Services, Rehana Azam, called the figures “damning” and said the statistics were evidence of an “attempted cover up” by the government. The union spokesperson also called on chancellor Philip Hammond to address the problem in the next budget.

She stated: “The average local government worker earns about £20,000 while teaching assistants are paid just £12,000, and all public-sector workers have lost thousands due to a planned decade of real-terms pay cuts.

“It’s shameful that in one of the world’s richest nations some of our public-sector heroes are forced to take on debt or use food banks to make ends meet. GMB’s members are performing miracles every day, but the goodwill is at breaking point and if public services can’t retain their staff then patients’ lives will be put at risk.

“Enough is enough. In the Budget the chancellor must announce the fully funded above-inflation pay rises that public-sector workers need and so desperately deserve.”

PSE has contacted the Treasury for comment. 

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