Government lifting of public sector pay cap ‘no comfor...

Government lifting of public sector pay cap ‘no comfort after seven years of misery’

04 September 2017

Unite, the UK’s largest union, has described briefings that the government is planning to slowly lift the public sector pay cap, as a ‘drop in the ocean’ that failed to acknowledge the seven years of pay misery it had inflicted on millions of public sector workers.

Research by Unite has found that local authority workers have suffered on average a 21 per cent pay cut in real terms since the Conservative government introduced the public sector pay cap in 2010. While the majority of NHS workers have seen their pay fall by 14 per cent in real terms.

The government’s briefing which suggests that pay increases above one per cent for public sector staff will be phased in over a two year period, potentially further undermines the independence of the pay review body process which is meant to govern the pay of much of the public sector.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Public sector workers have had to endure seven years of pay misery. Workers, who have dedicated their lives to working for the public, have had to continually cut their household spending. Most now only have enough to just about cover the bare essentials and, in some cases, workers have had to resort to food banks to make ends meet.

“The government’s proposals, which will not even come into effect until 2019 for many workers, are a drop in the ocean and will do nothing to address the years of pay cuts our public servants have had to endure. Ministers make no mention of compensating workers for their lost wages.

“The government’s proposals appear to further undermine the independent pay review process, which has been neutered by the government’s pay cap.

“The independent pay review bodies must be tasked with tackling the challenges of restoring pay to levels which will help to begin tackling the recruitment and retention crisis that is afflicting our public services.” 


For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235. Email: 

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.