The Tories announced pay deals for a million public sector workers in England this week.
The Daily Telegraph newspaper declared, “Public sector workers ‘set for 3.5 percent wage hike’.”
In reality pay rises for most of the workers will be lower and below inflation. They will not make up for years of real terms pay cuts. And money for the increases will come from existing budgets—possibly meaning more cuts.
On top of that, the deals don’t cover millions of public sector workers, such as college staff or those in the civil service.
Teachers were granted a 3.5 percent rise, but those on the “upper pay range” will get 2 percent and “leadership” will get 1.5 percent. Some may not even get these rises as “schools will determine how it is set”.
The deal is less than that recommended by the School Teachers’ Review Body, which said all teachers and school leaders should get 3.5 percent. Junior doctors and dentists will get “at least” 2 percent. The government confirmed, “Today’s increases are funded from departmental budgets.”
Even in the best-case scenario, the deals will still leave workers poorer in real terms than they were in 2010, when the Tories came to office.
Since then workers have suffered pay freezes, caps and below-inflation deals. For teachers this has meant a real terms cut of 15 percent.
Average pay for all workers was around £1,200 a year less in 2016 than it was in 2008, according to the TUC.
Some of the rises are below the official CPI measure of inflation, which was 2.4 percent last month. The RPI figure, which is more realistic as it includes housing costs and council tax, was 3.4 percent.
Several unions including the NEU, the biggest education union, had demanded a fully-funded 5 percent rise this year. Delegates to the NEU conference in April instructed the union to “ballot all members for strike action, if our demands are not met, at the earliest opportunity in the 2018/19 academic year”.
Jess Edwards is on the NEU (NUT section) executive. She told Socialist Worker, “Our schools have suffered huge cuts. This announcement is nowhere near what is required to repair the damage to schools or to restore teachers’ living standards.”
Workers shouldn’t settle for the Tories’ shoddy pay deals and service cuts, and should demand their unions lead a real fight over pay.
There is plenty of money to give workers much bigger rises.
MPs’ basic salary has gone up every year for the last seven years. In that time they’ve had a total rise of £11,600 and now grab £77,379 a year. This is before expenses and other extra payments.
The 1,000 richest people in Britain saw their total wealth go up by 10 percent since last year. It now stands at a record £724 billion.