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TORY ministers will face demands in Parliament today to abolish the public-sector pay cap that has allowed thousands of workers to sink into poverty.
Many workers have been forced to quit the public sector, including the NHS, as the value of their wages has failed to keep up with the rising cost of living.
Today’s debate has been forced on the government by a petition launched by public-sector union Unison, which has received almost 150,000 signatures since September.
It calls on the government to scrap the 1 per cent pay cap and to give public- sector workers an immediate pay increase at least in line with inflation, currently running at 4 per cent.
Ahead of the debate, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis wrote to Prime Minister Theresa May demanding an explanation as to why the Budget had failed to address the “woeful” lack of pay rises for public-sector employees.
He said: “For more than seven years, public-service workers have been getting steadily poorer as the gap between their wage rises and the cost of living has grown.
“As a result, they’ve been left thousands of pounds a year worse off, which has had a profound impact on the finances of millions of families, and on local economies as households with public-service employees rein in their spending.
“Services too are suffering as many experienced staff from hospitals, local councils, schools and police forces opt for less stressful, better-paid jobs outside the public sector, and those same services struggle to attract sufficient numbers of new recruits.
“Each and every month, the value of public-sector pay packets is in decline and, with inflation now 4 per cent, the gap between what dedicated public servants are paid and what they can afford grows ever wider.”
Mr Prentis said the government appeared to have no plan to restore public-sector pay to its level before the financial crisis of 2007-8 or to find a way of stemming the loss of “disillusioned” staff.
The debate, at 4.30pm in Westminster Hall, follows months of union campaigning for the cap to be scrapped.
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