In the past few days, attention has returned to the government’s painful and pointless pay cap. Rumours have begun to circulate that the Westminster government might be about to scrap the cap, and at long last move towards real pay rises for public sector workers. Meanwhile in Scotland, the SNP government has confirmed plans to lift the 1% cap.
Of course, it’s great to see that the pressure we’ve been putting on the government is beginning to pay off – especially after a summer of intensive work on our Pay Up Now campaign. But I certainly won’t be taking the kind words of Tory MPs or unsourced briefing to right-wing journalists as evidence that the era of austerity is over. UNISON members will only believe the political spin on pay when they see real pay rises on their wage slips. And UNISON won’t stop fighting for better pay until every public sector worker has had a proper pay rise.
We won’t stand for pay rises for some public sector employees while others, especially in areas like local government, are made to wait.
We won’t stand for regional pay, or a focus only on those in uniform, because we know that everyone working in public services is vital, no matter what grade they work at, what their profession is or what job title they have.
That’s why we’ve been making the case for years – and particularly in recent months – for the senseless attacks on public sector pay to come to an end.
We’re not satisfied with ending the pay cap. We want to see public sector workers recover the real terms losses they’ve been subjected to over nearly a decade of austerity. It’s completely unjust that public servants have been forced to bear the brunt of bailing out the bankers. It’s completely unsustainable to ask those who our nation relies upon to continue to accept lower pay on a permanent basis.
Over the summer we’ve written to MPs from all parties to pile on the pressure on pay – and the responses we’ve had so far have been encouraging. With party conferences on the way, we’ll be taking our message around the country at rallies and meetings to drive our point – and your stories – home to decision-makers. We’ll need your help with that, in every branch and every region, to put pressure on employers and the government to act.
And on 17 October, we’ll be doing a targeted lobby of Tory MPs in Westminster, followed by a rally in Parliament Square. That’s an absolutely vital event in this campaign. Coming just before the Budget, this provides us with a real opportunity to drive home the importance of scrapping the cap and putting pay up immediately. Further details will be circulated in the weeks ahead, but get the date in your diaries now – and join us on 17 October to call for an end to the pay cap, and a return to real wage rises for all public sector workers.