Unions attack Rishi Sunak over public sector pay

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak outside 11 Downing Street, London, before heading to the Ho

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak outside 11 Downing Street, London, before heading to the House of Commons to deliver his Budget - Credit: PA

Union leaders said the Rishi Sunak’s silence on pay for public sector workers was “deafening”.

Officials of unions representing hundreds of thousands of public sector workers and civil servants described Rishi Sunak’s Budget as an “insult”.

Many public sector workers face a pay freeze this year despite calls for an increase because of their efforts during the coronavirus crisis.

Rehana Azam, national officer of the GMB, said: “The chancellor can dance around his living room with the ministerial red box all he wants, but all this Budget shows to public sector workers is that his clapping is a worthless gesture.

“When it comes down to it, the big ‘love-in’ and ‘immense praise’ has amounted to nothing for the workers that carried us through the pandemic.

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“Nor has he changed the super-spreader policy of poverty sick pay that prevents people from self-isolating.

“This Budget is an insult to the millions of NHS, schools, care, local government workers who have seen us through this crisis.”

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Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), said: “Rishi Sunak has failed to vaccinate the economy from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“His refusal to lift the pay cap on civil servants and other public sector workers, who have kept the country going during the pandemic, is a disgrace and economically illiterate.

“It is clear the government will not listen to public sector workers on pay, and therefore a united trade union movement must be prepared to take action together in order for our members to see pay justice.”

Scottish TUC general secretary Roz Foyer said: “The silence on public sector pay was deafening. This Budget is a slap in the face for key workers in the public sector.”

Dame Donna Kinnair, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “The fact the chancellor has not set aside money in this Budget for a significant pay rise for nursing staff is a worrying sign of his intention to give a very low pay award this summer.

“Nursing staff are worse off than they were a decade ago. If that pay rise is low, it won’t be enough to stave off a potential exodus of exhausted NHS nursing staff at the end of the pandemic – and NHS services will find safe patient care even harder to deliver.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “After a year of key workers going above and beyond, it’s an insult that the chancellor announced no new support for our hard-pressed NHS or public services and no guarantee of a decent pay rise for all our public sector key workers.”

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The chancellor had much to say on how to revive the economy but was strangely silent on public services.

“Workers and services at the heart of the country’s pandemic will be more concerned with what Rishi Sunak – so keen to stress his honest approach – didn’t announce today.

“No mention of cash to raise the morale of exhausted NHS workers and grant the pay rise they’ve more than earned.

“Nothing for key workers who’ve given their all, not a single helping. The government has an odd way of saying thanks.”

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