Minister Says It's "Extremely Unlikely" Public Sector Workers Will See Double Figure Pay Rises
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke has said it is “extremely unlikely” that public sector workers will be awarded pay rises in line with inflation this year.
Speaking on Times Radio, the minister claimed that in order to prevent inflation from worsening, pay discipline “really matters”.
Clarke’s intervention comes as teachers and NHS staff have threatened to join the growing number of public sector workers striking over pay disputes.
On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday this week, transport infrastructure is set to grind to a halt as rail workers participate in the largest industrial action Britain has seen for 30 years.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union are striking over pay freezes, occupational health and safety issues and job-cut threats.
An offer of a 2% rise by Network Rail, the organisation that employs rail workers, was rejected by the union.
Mick Lynch, the General Secretary of RMT has said some of the unions 40,000 strong membership have been forced to rely on foodbanks and benefits due to the cost-of-living crisis, despite working full-time hours.
However, government argues that implementing pay rises across the public sector will not solve the issue, rather it would worsen inflation by driving costs upwards.
"It is simply unsustainable for unions like the RMT to be making things worse by driving unrest, damaging the economy and stoking unrealistic expectations which, if they were realised, would prolong and intensify inflation," Clarke told LBC on Monday morning.
"Whatever level of salary you are on, it is not in your interest to have an inflationary spiral," he added.
“That is what we’re working hard to prevent.”
Government has so far refused to engage directly with the RMT, claiming negotiations should only be carried out by the workers’ employer, Network Rail.
Labour has accused government of “refusing to step up and take responsibility” for the industrial action due to ensue.
“The Tories are in power and they’re refusing to come to the negotiating table,” Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh told Sky News on Monday morning.
“Without their input workers have very little option than to take industrial action in order to fight for that fair pay settlement,” she added.
Government says that in lieu of pay rises it has put in a package worth £37 billion to assist households with the cost-of-living.
It claims one in three people on means tested benefits of any kind are entitled to £1,200 worth of financial help.
“That is a very substantial state package of support,” Clarke said.
“That more or less offsets entirely what the extra pressure on energy bills is for a typical home,” he added.
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