Edinburgh echoed to the demand “Pay Up Now!” at the weekend, as more than 5,000 public service workers marched through the Scottish capital.
The march and rally was organised by UNISON as part of the union’s Pay Up Now! campaign, which is keeping pressure on both the Scottish and Westminster governments to end the pay cap and give all workers a decent pay rise.
Workers providing pubic services have seen their pay held back across the UK for almost a decade. Public sector pay rose by just 4.4% between 2010 and 2016, while the cost of living rose by 22%.
The Scottish government has said it is scrapping the pay cap a move welcomed by UNISON Scotland convenor Lilian Macer. But she also warned: “There is still much more to do.
“Public sector workers play a vital role in our communities,” she told the rally, “looking after us by keeping us safe, healthy, educated, and cared for.
“We can’t accept the end of a 1% pay cap to just implement another pay cap. Public sector workers need pay rises at least in line with inflation and recognition of the pay they have lost for the last decade.”
Scottish health worker and UNISON senior vice president Gordon McKay told the union members who marched: “Your families are proud of you. Your communities are proud of you. And your union is so, so proud of you.
“But I need to be honest: not everybody does value you, not everybody does respect you.
“Some people want to drive you into poverty and drive you out of the public sector. And every single one of them is sitting in the Tory cabinet in Westminster. ”
General secretary Dave Prentis also spoke to the rally, saying: “The UK and Scottish governments are now under real pressure to give all public service workers a decent pay rise.
“Employees across our public services have had their pay held back for far too long. Classroom assistants, care workers, hospital cleaners and police clerks need a wage rise above the rate of inflation, so they can recoup some of the pay they’ve lost over the past few years.
And he added: “Any pay rises need to be properly funded so they don’t mean deeper cuts to jobs and services elsewhere. There must be no selective lifting of the cap for some public servants but not for others.
“All public sector employees, no matter where they work or what job they do, need and deserve a decent pay rise now.”