Members will no doubt have seen today’s media reports that the Government are threatening a public sector pay freeze in 2021 and perhaps even longer, except for NHS workers.
The confirmation by Ministers that Chancellor Rishi Sunak is considering this possibility as part of the outcomes from next weeks expected publication of the Spending Review, has prompted furious responses from Unions across the public sector.
Ministers have claimed that this summer’s pay increase for some public sector workers, along with statistics claiming that public sector salaries have outstripped those in the private sector by 7%, justifies such a policy.
Napo members across the NPS, CRCs, Probation Northern Ireland and Cafcass will share the sense of outrage as they were not included in the summer pay round, and have seen their pay fall behind comparable professions over the last decade during which they have been subject to the last public sector pay freeze.
Moreover, the Covid-19 crisis has seen a spiral in unemployment which will also have impacted on the income of many families where the wage of a public sector worker is now the only means of income.
Our members are also among the hundreds of thousands of other front line workers who have faced significant personal risk as they have kept open vital services to the public and clients, and helped to suppress the spread of Covid-19 into our communities. These efforts have been a vital contribution to the social fabric of the UK during these unprecedented times.
Whilst we have seen some recent pay settlements for our members working in the CRC’s, some negotiations have still to take place, and progress across other employers for 2020/21 is slower than Napo would like, despite our considerable efforts to move matters forward.
It’s certain that public sector unions will launch a combined campaign through the TUC against this policy if it is announced; and will point to the timing of such a move by the Government who have suddenly found £16b for new spending on defence.
Napo will raise the issue with senior HMPPS leaders and in our ongoing negotiations with the NPS on the joint unions pay claim for 2020/21 and the parallel talks to modernise the future pay system. Likewise, in our current discussions with the Probation Board of Northern Ireland and Cafcass, where we await clearance on pay remits so that negotiations can get underway.
We will issue more news on the above and other major developments in our continuing efforts to keep members safe at the earliest opportunity. Meanwhile, we are yet again seeing clear evidence of the cynical attitude of this Government to their public sector workers.
Ian Lawrence Katie Lomas
General Secretary National Chair