Gordon Brown steadfastly refused to give ground on public sector pay restraint in his speech – prompting further anger from workers at the TUC in Brighton.
“Let me be straightforward with you,” Brown said. “Pay discipline is essential to prevent inflation, to maintain growth and create more jobs, so that we never return to the boom and bust of the past.”
But public sector workers are building up to take coordinated industrial action against the government’s below-inflation pay deals.
Around 90,000 civil servants employed by the Department for Work and Pensions voted on Monday to reject the government’s pay offer, which they say is worth only 1.9 percent in the current financial year.
More than two million workers in local government, health, the civil service workers and the prison service are currently involved in pay battles with employers.
TUC delegates were set to vote on coordinated action over pay as Socialist Worker went to press. A motion from the PCS “deplores” the pay limit set by the government and recommends that unions “discuss coordinated industrial action”.
A separate proposal from the National Union of Teachers warns against “unfair, discriminatory or demotivating public sector pay policies” having an adverse effect on the quality of services.
“Our members are not fat cats on inflation busting salaries,” said Mark Serwotka, the PCS general secretary. “They are not the cause of inflation – they are the victims of it.”