Nurses are to get a pay rise of no more than 1 per cent from 2011, the chancellor Alistair Darling has announced.
Setting out his spending plans in Parliament today, Mr Darling said that he will limit pay rises for public sector workers to 1 per cent for two years from 2011-12.
He said the decision was one of a series of “difficult choices”, that “are essential if we are to stick to our plan to halve the deficit and protect the front line”. He added that restricting pay rises would save the government £3.4bn.
But UNISON has condemned Mr Darling’s limit on pay rises as a betrayal of public sector workers.
Responding to the chancellor’s announcement today, general secretary Dave Prentis said: “I am not going to sign up to this. I know how our members feel - they feel angry and betrayed.
“It is just not on to make nurses, social workers, dinner ladies, cleaners and hospital porters pay the price for the folly of the bankers.”
He added: “We have no idea what inflation will be like in 2011 and beyond. Nor do we know what the future price will be of essentials such as food and fuel. We are on the same side of the street as our members and I won’t let them see their living standards eroded.
“Capping pension contributions will reduce the already small public sector pensions even further. The average pension in local government is just £4,000 a year and less than £2,000 for women. This predicted £1bn savings could end up being paid out as benefits to those very same workers to keep them out of poverty in retirement.”
The decision to limit nurses’ pay rises is new. In the autumn he announced plans to freeze pay for some NHS staff, but only senior employees such as managers and hospital doctors.
Mr Darling said: “We have to be realistic, the spending environment will be tough over the next few years.”
Is the chancellor right to impose a limit on public sector pay rises?