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Pay rise plans for MPs amid pandemic criticised by unions

UNIONS have condemned a proposal to raise MPs’ salaries next year while ministers refuse to negotiate a rise for public-sector workers who have maintained services during the pandemic.

MPs could receive a pay rise of more than £3,300 a year from next April under new proposals from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa).

Ipsa is the body responsible for overseeing MPs’ pay, pensions and expenses and is independent from Parliament. 

But some MPs have expressed unease about being awarded an increase in their current £79,468 salary at a time when many of their constituents are facing redundancies and economic uncertainty.

Tooting Labour MP Dr Rosena Allin-Khan said she would not take the pay rise or, if unable to refuse it, would donate it to charity.

Even Tory business minister Nadhim Zahawi described the proposal as “inappropriate.”

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of public-sector union PCS, told the Star: “The generous pay rise for MPs stands in stark contrast to the thousands of public-sector workers who have suffered pay restraint for more than a decade.

“Thousands of workers in job centres, at the borders, in tax offices and at airports have kept the country going during a global pandemic and public-health crisis.  

“They deserve no less than a significant, above-inflation pay rise and safe working conditions for the phenomenal work they have done throughout the coronavirus crisis.  

“Anything less is an insult to their courageous efforts.”

The government is also being urged to give nurses an immediate rise, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been condemned for doing “absolutely nothing” about bringing forward pay talks.

Dame Donna Kinnair, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, will tell a virtual conference on Thursday that Mr Johnson has not yet entered into talks, despite 14 health unions calling for discussions since July.

She will also say that the government should commit to a 12.5 per cent pay increase for NHS nursing staff when it sets out its spending priorities next month.

Ms Kinnair will add: “Some of [Mr Johnson’s] colleagues tried to tell us we’d just had a rise. One even said there were other priorities.

“Before they get any ideas this winter, I have something simple to say to Boris Johnson: we don’t want claps, medals or pin badges this time. Just pay us fairly for the tough job that we do.”

Uniosn assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The public servants who really need a wage rise are the ones who’ve kept us safe, cared for us and kept services running for the past few months.  

“With infections rising it looks like we’re hurtling towards a repeat of the situation in the spring.

“It’s time for the government to do the right thing and give an early and significant rise of at least £2,000 to every health worker in the country. Care staff also deserve a substantial increase in pay.”

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