Scottish ministers pledge to lift 1% public sector pay cap

Union members in Scotland have this week marked an important victory as ministers in Holyrood stated that the 1% pay cap on public sector pay would be lifted.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, finance secretary Derek Mackay said that the government recognised that “the time is up for the 1% pay cap”.

It comes after months of pressure from a number of unions to lift the pay cap which has seen some workers pay decrease in real terms by 14% since 2010.

“The Scottish government has committed to lifting the pay cap,” Mackay said. “We will engage with the trade unions. I cannot make a determination today but I will, of course, engage positively with them.

“We understand the situation of people in the workforce on the lowest incomes, whose spending power has reduced as a consequence of rising inflation,” he continued. “That is why we have a position that will take account of the public finances and the cost of living. 

“The first minister has made it clear that it will not be assumed that the 1% pay cap will be maintained next year or in future years.”

The finance secretary added that the government would take into account inflation in the future pay policy, as he noted that Labour had previously proposed basic rate tax rises for Scottish public sector workers.

“We will take a reasonable approach that absolutely recognises that the time is up for the 1% pay cap,” Mackay explained. “Not only will the SNP commit to that, but we will do it.”

Unsurprisingly, the news has been well received by unions. “We welcome the Scottish government's commitment to end the pay cap, which has resulted in a massive decrease in the value of our members’ take-home pay since 2010,” stated FDA national officer for Scotland Allan Sampson.

“With inflation now rising sharply, and predicted to rise further, the removal of this cap is both necessary and overdue. We now have to urgently explore ways to ensure members can benefit from this change of approach as early as possible.”

The change in Scotland will also increase pressure on the English government, which last week voted to keep the pay cap in place – something that was described as “an insult,” to workers by Unison.

Unions have been vocal in lobbying for a change to the policy within central government, as Unison and the PCS last week stated that there was an “unarguable case” for getting rid of the cap.

It also comes after many ministers within Theresa May’s Cabinet publicly voiced their opposition to keeping the cap in place, including environment secretary Michael Gove as well as foreign secretary Boris Johnson – according to the BBC this morning.

Top Image: Andrew Milligan PA Wire

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