Unions reject prime minister’s proposals for pay contract

Public sector unions have rejected prime minister, Gordon Brown’s, proposals for a three-year pay contract across the public sector.

In his monthly press conference, Brown announced the government would be looking towards long-term public sector pay settlements, replacing annual pay negotiations with a three-year settlement of 2%, as part of the government’s plans to hold down inflation.

He claimed that long-term pay deals would be advantageous to public sector workers such as teachers and nurses. “It puts everything on a long-term footing. It means that as people face mortgage bills and utility prices they know exactly what their income is likely to be.

“Three-year pay deals, consistent with three-year public spending settlements, mean we have that consistency and long-termism in the setting of pay as well. Now I think that is to the advantage of not just the economy but to individual groups in the country.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling said:”We remain committed to creating a platform of stability and we will continue to do that as we have in the past year with public sector pay. Our aim is to have awards that are consistent with the inflation target of 2%, that they are affordable, but that we want to move towards a position where we have long-term pay awards because we believe that they would be good for public service employees and their families.”

However, public sector unions such as GMB, which represents 300,000 public sector workers have disagreed with this statement.

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It argued it would be socially unacceptable to control public sector pay because different parts of the sector have different needs.

GMB national secretary for public service, Brian Strutton, said:”The government has reneged on most recent pay review body awards and who’s to say they would honour a three year deal? Their track record says otherwise. The reality is that Brown and Darling want to have public sector pay settled for politically expediency because there will be a general election within the next three years. GMB isn’t interested in those sort of games – we have members who need good pay rises.”