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Hands off our wages

As Chancellor Philip Hammond prepares to announce the Budget, unions fear he's set for another all-out attack on public-sector pay

UNIONS vowed today to fight plans being cooked up by the Tories for a renewed attack on public-sector wages via the introduction of regional and performance-related pay.

Millions of public-service workers, including NHS staff and local authority workers, could find themselves financially penalised under such plans, which the unions fear will be announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond in next week’s Budget.

The unions say workers should be paid the rate for the job, not on the basis of where they live.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “The government’s mask has once again slipped. Rather than ending austerity, it appears to be preparing to launch another broadside against public-sector workers.

“Public-sector workers are increasingly struggling to make ends meet as pay increases still lag far behind inflation and are failing to meet rising living costs.

“Workers must be paid the rate for the job regardless of where they work.”

GMB said such tinkering would force workers to move out of poorer areas in order to maintain their levels of pay, adding
that the government should examine the work of its own ministers when considering performance-related pay.

GMB national officer Rehana Azam said: “People should be paid for the job they do and skills and experience they have, not where they live.

“Performance-related just does not work in the public sector. How do you judge it? A paramedic who saves the most lives? It doesn’t make sense.

“The government tried to introduce it in 2012 and was defeated then, so why do they think it will work now?”

The Treasury has declined to comment on a report that ministers have been told public-sector pay rises will in future be based on performance and where workers live.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “So-called ‘regional pay’ is a complete non-starter for public-sector workers, who have already seen the value of their wages fall massively under this government.

“What the Chancellor really means when he talks of wanting greater ‘flexibility’ is to hammer the pay of everyone who works for the NHS, schools, local councils and police forces.

“Nurses, care workers and teaching assistants are already paid far less than their hard work and incredible performance deserves. Public-sector employees shouldn’t have to face yet more hurdles just to get a fair wage.”

Garry Graham, deputy general secretary of union Prospect, said: “The Civil Service has already been singled out for particularly harsh treatment on pay.

“Ministers have been advised that Civil Service pay increases and pay levels lag significantly behind both the private and public sector.

“Despite this [the government] have already chosen to cap pay increases at 1.5 per cent despite the increasing recruitment and retention problems many departments and agencies face.”

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