Ending the pay cap “is not just about uniformed services … there is a whole team in any service.”
That was the message UNISON took to Parliament today, when assistant general secretary Christina McAnea met Labour MPs to update them on the union’s high-profile campaign, Pay Up Now!
The meeting was just part of a day of action.
UNISON and other union members from across the country lobbied their constituency MPs in the afternoon, followed by a rally in the evening, where general secretary Dave Prentis spoke.
At the morning meeting, Ms McAnea reacted to government hints and suggestions that it will end the pay cap that has held down public service pay for seven years, by noting: “We haven’t seen the colour of any money yet …”
She is responsible for bargaining and negotiating in the union and said UNISON has won the public argument that public service workers deserved a rise.
But she warned that the problem of a gap in funding remained, while there was a risk that the government would cherry-pick some public service workers ahead of others in its effort to be seen to be rewarding public service workers as a whole.
If workers found themselves being offered amounts that were only symbolically above the cap – so for instance, 1.1% – “there’ll be no champagne corks popping”.
The union continues to hear locally that ‘austerity is still around’, but she reminded the MPs that austerity is a political decision, not a law of nature.
There is also an expectation of being told, after the Budget, that the uncertainty caused by Brexit is an additional reason to continue holding down pay.
Ms McAnea (pictured above with joint chairs of the UNISON Labour MPs’ group Eleanor Smith, left, and Angela Rayner, right) was meeting MPs ahead of a rally and lobby of Parliament on public service pay and as the latest inflation figures were released.
The two measures of inflation showed prices rising at 3% (CPI) and 3.9% (RPI), further revealing the impact on public service workers’ personal finances and the need for properly-funded pay rises.