Lift the pay cap now, says Dave Prentis

The government must bring to an end the damaging era of public sector job losses and squeezed services – and scrap the punishing pay cap for everyone once and for all, says UNISON today (Sunday).

At the start of the annual Trades Union Congress in Brighton, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “The government is out of step with the mood of the nation on public sector pay. Over recent months there have been warm words and gratitude for public sector workers, but that won’t pay the bills, buy their children’s school uniform or put petrol in their cars.

“Back in June there was a vote in the Commons to end the public sector pay cap, and give teaching assistants, hospital porters, care workers and other public servants the real and proper pay rises they all need and deserve.

“The government won by just 14 votes. Had only a handful of Conservative MPs stood with their constituents and voted to end the cap then, the result would have been quite different.

“But Theresa May’s government has let down public sector workers and their families up and down the country. We won’t let her forget that, and we won’t let her MPs with small majorities forget that either.

“On Friday we wrote to thousands of UNISON members, reminding them that their local MP has yet to back them on pay and that it’s their votes that will decide who wins these seats at the next election.

“UNISON is determined there won’t be any safe seats for MPs who vote to give themselves above-inflation pay rises. These are the same MPs who are happy for their government to carry on denying teaching assistants, nurses and care workers that long overdue and much-needed wage boost.

“There’s been speculation ministers might decide to single out a particular group of workers, rather than lift the pay cap for everyone. But no one part of the public sector is any more deserving than the rest.

“After seven long years of pay freezes and limits on their wages, ambulance workers, school meals staff, police and community support officers and other public service employees all deserve so much better.”

To kick off the next stage of UNISON’s ‘Pay Up Now!’ campaign, Dave Prentis has written to thousands of UNISON members in 27 marginal Conservative constituencies, where the number of UNISON members is significantly greater than the majority held by the sitting MP.

For example, Conservative MP Royston Smith representing the Southampton Itchen constituency has a majority of just 31, while over 2,000 UNISON members live there. Similarly, the Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb has a majority of 314 and a constituency where there are more than 2,600 UNISON members.

Hundreds of UNISON members have already been in touch with their local MPs, explaining how tough life has become under the pay cap and the harm that is being done to the services they help provide. They want their MPs to put the case to the Chancellor for why the cap must go and why all NHS, school, council and police staff need a decent pay rise now.

Notes to editors:
– The list of the 27 Conservative constituencies with their majorities and UNISON membership size:
– After the press conference, Dave Prentis and a number of public sector workers, including a nurse and ambulance worker are due to take part in a stunt to illustrate how public servants are ‘losers’ under the government’s punishing pay policy. The photo stunt involves them trying their luck on a giant slot machine on Brighton seafront. But the ‘Pay Up Now!’ one-armed bandit is rigged. The arcade machine’s display stops at ‘one per cent, you lose’ every time the machine’s lever is pulled. Pictures will be available from the UNISON press office.
– Dave will be leading the debate on public sector pay at the TUC on Monday afternoon.

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