PM rejects unions demands for public sector pay

Prime Minister (PM) Gordon Brown has said that he will not succumb to union leader demands for higher public sector pay or an end to staged pay settlements just as civil service union announces ballot of 280,000 members for potential strike action over pay.

During his first speech as PM to the Trades Union Congress, Brown said that the Labour government puts stability first offering “no unaffordable promises, no taking risks with inflation”.

He said: “Pay discipline is essential to prevent inflation, to maintain growth and to create more jobs.”

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber responded by saying that although Brown “was at ease with a trade union audience”, differences remained in areas such as public sector pay, adding: “Unions will always urge a Labour government to go further and faster”.

Meanwhile, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) announced plans for a consultative ballot of 270,000 members working in over 200 different government departments, agencies and non-departmental public bodies on further strike action later this year. A number of issues are at stake including claims of worsening pay conditions.

Responding to Brown’s speech, Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “We share Gordon Brown’s desire to increase workers’ skills, create new jobs and develop quality public services. But it is totally inconsistent for him to talk about this while cutting civil service jobs and cutting real terms pay.

“Our members are not fat cats, on inflation busting salaries. They are not the causes of inflation, they are the victims of it.”

Members of the PCS who work for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have already rejected a below inflation pay offer which, the union claims, would see approximately 40% of staff receive 0% pay increase next year. The three-year pay deal was rejected by 76% of those voting.

Serwotka said: “The rejection of this pay offer sends a clear signal that the people who have delivered the lowest unemployment in a generation, pension credits and the New Deal aren’t prepared to accept below inflation pay and pay cuts in real terms.”