Unions accuse Coalition government of undermining independence integrity of the Pay Review Body system

Tim Lezard

UNISON pinderfields picketUnions say public sector workers from NHS staff and prison officers to British soliders in Afghanistan face another year of financial hardship following a Treasury decision to impose a 1% increase.

(Pictured: striking NHS medical secretaries, W Yorkshire. December 2012)

UNISON, which represents 450,000 health workers, said the “squeeze on pay coming on the back of a two year pay freeze will make life even harder for many health workers and their families already struggling to make ends meet”.

Officials calculate that imposing a 1% pay increase, means that inflation will have stripped up to 12% off the value of NHS wages.

UNISON’s head of health Christina McAnea said: “What kind of message does it send to health workers about the value this Government places on their work?  And what incentive is there for young people to join the NHS when they are so undervalued?

“Freezing and squeezing pay is crushing morale and heaping financial misery on more than a million NHS workers.

“At the same time, the NHS is going through a massive reorganisation and staff are dealing with job cuts, rationing and ever increasing patient numbers.

“Low pay is still a massive issue in the NHS, with thousands of staff being paid less than the Living Wage of £7.45 per hour.”

The pay award of 1% for public sector workers for 2013-14 will contribute to a further reduction in living standards for millions of working people.

Unions estimate 50,000 NHS staff have been made redundant since 2010, however demand for services is on the rise across most of the NHS.

Unite assistant general secretary for the public sector Gail Cartmail said: “With inflation hovering at about 2.7%, this announcement from the Treasury is woefully inadequate and will mean that the living standards of millions of working people and their families will be further hit.

“Yet again, nurses, health visitors, prison officers and the soldiers serving in Afghanistan are bearing the brunt for the financial chaos caused by the greedy City elite.

“Chancellor George Osborne is continuing his socially and economically divisive policies in the run-up to next week’s budget.

“Working people are faced with average energy bills of £1,400-a-year, and soaring food prices, yet ministers march blithely onwards.

“Public sector workers contribute greatly to their local economies, so if their pay packets are further squeezed this has an adverse knock-on effect in the local high street – and this will hinder economic recovery.

“Unite will be campaigning in the next 12 months for public sector workers to receive a substantial and fair uplift in their wages for the year 2014-15.”

In evidence to the Pay Review Body, UNISON said the NHS in England recorded a surplus of £1.6bn for the 2011/12 financial year and foundation trusts are predicting a further surplus of £326m.

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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