Alistair Darling’s pre-Budget statement on 9 October promised real wage cuts for public sector workers through to 2011, as well as choking back health and education spending and decreeing extra job cuts in the civil service, especially the Department of Work and Pensions.
The statement decrees “public sector pay settlements consistent with the achievement of the Government’s inflation target of 2 per cent” right through to the financial year 2010-11.
Actually, the Retail Price Index currently shows inflation at 4.1%. It has been above 4% pretty much all this year — 4.8% at one point — and is currently going up. For years now it has rarely been below 3%.
When talking about public sector pay, the Government prefers to quote a different index, the CPI, which excludes housing costs. However, public sector workers have to pay rent or mortgages...
In short, and unprecedentedly, the Government is trying to impose real wage cuts on public sector workers for five consecutive years, and not even at a time of particular economic crisis.
Gordon Brown, as Chancellor, was laying down the two per cent limit as early as December 2005, writing to the NHS Pay Review Body stating that the 2006 pay award for nurses and other workers should observe it.
Yet union leaders were scrabbling to see “good things” in Darling’s statement! It’s high time they united to break this wage-cutting regime.