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Unions back Labour amendment to end public sector pay cap

Two of the largest public sector unions have given their backing to an amendment tabled by Labour which calls for more funding for the emergency services and an end to the sector’s 1% pay cap.

Unison and the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) stated that there is now an “unarguable case” to lift the pay cap from all civil and public servants. The news also comes after three unions called for a 5% pay rise for public sector workers.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the amendment to the Queen’s Speech, which will be the first vote of the new Parliament, is a test case for MPs’ approach to austerity.

“You can’t have safety and security on the cheap. It is plain to see that seven years of cuts to our emergency services has made us less safe; it’s time to make a change,” he argued.

“Our emergency service workers make us proud at the worst of times for our country, such as the Grenfell Tower Fire and the recent terrorist attacks, and deserve the pay rise they have been denied for seven years.”

Last week, key figures across local government and the health sector sharply criticised the Queen’s Speech for a lack of information around fundamental issues, such as devolution, business rates retention and social care reform.

Responding to the tabled amendment, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Quite rightly, politicians of all parties have praised the efforts of public sector workers over the past few months. This vote gives MPs a chance to show they really mean what they’ve said.”

Prentis added that public sector pay has fallen behind in the last seven years and this has caused real hardship for workers and their families. It has also made it more difficult to recruit and retain staff in key public services.

Recently, a survey by the FDA union of its members found that a third of civil servants would like to leave the Civil Service “as soon as possible”, whilst 83% expressed dissatisfaction with overall pay arrangements in the public sector.

PCS union general secretary Mark Serwotka stated: “There is now an unarguable case to lift the pay cap from all civil and public servants to start to reverse seven years of cuts to their living standards. After losing her majority in the general election, Theresa May no longer has any mandate to continue with this and other cuts to public spending.”

Defending the government, a Conservative Party spokesman said: “We’ve protected the police budget since 2015 while Labour wanted to cut it by 10% – and the number of fire incidents has halved in the last decade.

“We have also given the police and intelligence agencies the powers they need to respond to increased threats and keep people safe.

“But the truth is you can't fund your emergency services without a growing, healthy economy which only Conservatives in government will deliver; that’s why we have put forward a Queen’s Speech that will build a stronger economy so we can improve people's living standards and fund public services.”


FDA general secretary Dave Penman told PSE: “The continuation of the pay cap risks seriously undermining public service delivery at a crucial time for the country, and we have repeatedly warned ministers about its effects on morale, recruitment and retention.

“As the stark findings of our recent survey of public sector leaders show, one third of civil servants are looking to leave the organisation as soon as possible, while 60% told us their morale had decreased over the last year, citing pay as the main reason for the fall.

“It’s time for a fundamentally different approach to Civil Service pay, one that rewards and motivates those people tasked with delivering the government’s agenda. Ending the arbitrary 1% pay cap would be a start.”

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