Public services pay freeze – UNISON takes the fight to Tory MPs

Red wall Tories to learn the reality of working in public services through the pandemic

UNISON is working with the TUC and other public service trade unions to put pressure on Tory MPs in ‘red wall’ seats ahead of the budget on 3 March, urging them to support the campaign against the government’s proposed public services pay freeze.

A series of online constituency lobbies will be held in the week beginning Monday 22 February, at which our members and those of other unions will tell their MPs about the reality of working in public services through the pandemic.

At the end of the meeting the MPs will be asked to sign a letter, on behalf of their public service constituents, to the chancellor Rishi Sunak.

This is the latest in a series of actions that form the campaign to persuade the government to abandon its unjust pay freeze – which, because of inflation, will amount to a pay cut.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea wrote to the Treasury in November, rejecting the pay freeze and seeking urgent clarification on the scope of the minimum £250 that the chancellor said would be available to all those earning under £24k. She also sought assurances that pay increases, including that promised to NHS staff, will be fully funded.

The insulting failure to respond will be raised with MPs at the lobby.

Said Ms McAnea: “UNISON members have given so much to keep our communities going during the pandemic. The pay freeze is a slap in the face to them. It’s morally wrong.

“They cared for all us throughout these difficult months. The government has to care for them in return. It can’t be allowed to get away with this.”

She added: “The pay freeze is also bad for the economy. If you take money out of our members’ pockets, they have less to spend on the local high street. That’s not how you restart the economy after a pandemic.”

Despite the pay freeze announcement, service groups, including those in the devolved nations, will continue to submit pay claims in the usual way.

Although last week’s budget statement in Scotland indicated that the Scottish government is not going down the same road as the Tories at Westminster, announcements made so far are nowhere near enough.

Further information about the campaign, including a Stop the Pay Freeze rally, will be published shortly.

To find out more about the lobby, take part in an online meeting about it on 9 February.

Reality check: public services pay freeze