Public sector workers should have an immediate 5% wage rise, without it being paid for by job cuts, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka told a TUC pay rally opposite parliament last night (17).
“We all deserve a pay rise,” was the call from the thousands of people who gathered for the scrap the cap march and rally in Westminster.
Union leaders spoke to the early evening rally from the top of an open top double decker bus, directing their demands across the road to the government.
Mark told the crowd: “‘Wherever you work, you are the unsung heroes of this country. We’re not interested in a pay rise if colleagues lose their jobs, we want money out into public services.
He said for most workers to get a pay rise they have to work together in a union. PCS members are currently taking part in a consultative pay ballot.
"We want to sit down with other unions in the new year to say that if we don't get what we want we will take industrial action together," he said.
PCS president Janice Godrich told an earlier march opposite Downing Street: “We all deserve a pay rise, so let's take the action needed.”
Mark also stressed that anything less than a 3% pay increase would be a pay cut. The UK's key inflation rate hit its highest for more than five years in September, driven up by increases in transport and food prices. Even the government’s inflation measure, the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) which excludes housing costs, climbed to 3%, a level it last reached in April 2012, and up from 2.9% in August.
The TUC this week published figures showing that public sector workers will be "significantly" out of pocket even if the government lifts its controversial cap on their pay.
Forced to use foodbanks
The Daily Mirror reported that Tim Roache, general secretary of the GMB, also addressed the rally and said: "For years, the Tories have told you that you don't deserve a pay rise.
"They've paid lip service to the vital work you do - looking after us when we're sick or in our older years, teaching our kids, putting your lives on the line in burning buildings and in the face of terrorist attacks - but that's all it is.
"Year on year some of the hardest working people on our front lines are seeing their pay cut - prices go up, wages don't.
"Public sector workers are being forced to go to foodbanks to eat. That is an absolute disgrace and it must stop.
"It's up to us to force this spiteful, wrongheaded and weak government to get their act together."
The Mirror also reported that TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said the whole trade union movement would support anyone taking industrial action.
"Some public servants are £4,000 a year worse off than in 2010, and they are falling further and further behind the private sector.
"Millions have fallen foul of this great pay robbery. When nurses are having to use food banks, payday lenders and pawnshops in one of the world's richest countries, something has gone catastrophically wrong,” she said.
"The cap needs to be scrapped and replaced with proper pay rises. A small wage increase that falls well short of price rises is actually a pay cut."
Earlier in the day PCS members had joined members of other public sector unions at parliament to lobby Tory MPs with a majority of less than 2,000. They called on them to put pressure on the minority government to scrap the cap and give all public sector workers fully-funded, above inflation pay rises. MPs including Iain Duncan Smith and Anna Soubry have agreed to meet with our reps at their constituency offices.
What you can do
- Vote yes in the PCS consultative ballot from 9 October - 6 November.
- Tell the chancellor how the pay cap has affected you using our pay calculator
- Get involved in our programme of pay activities to scrap the pay cap.
- Ask a workmate to join PCS.
- Consider making a regular, £2 a month contribution to the PCS Fighting Fund to support members taking strike action.