PCS tells TUC: strike to break pay cap

14 Sep 2016

PCS has called on the TUC to actively supporting and coordinating strike action across the trade union movement to break the government's disastrous 1% public sector pay cap.

Motion 29 to TUC Congress today (14 September), proposed by our assistant general secretary Chris Baugh explained how the government's pay policy has has been disastrous for economic growth, increased inequality, and led to a 20% real-terms drop in living standards for millions of public sector workers. He pointed to a 2-year pay freeze in 2010, and a 1% pay cap since 2012 due to run until 2019. 

Our assistant general secretary Chris Baugh said that the policy has "categorically failed, the public finances are still broken, and the deficit has grown".

Chris said it was time for fair pay increases for public sector workers which would help to stimulate the economy and lift us out of the crisis the government has created.

Chris called for a coordinated campaign including strike action to break the 1% public sector pay cap.

"The real question is when a government or employer is not prepared to listen to sweet reason, how do we best respond? By planning and coordinating the strike action that is going to be necessary to break the pay cap."

Break the cap

The pay cap has resulted in many union negotiators entering into deals with employers whereby terms and conditions are altered in return for pay increases.

This can create tension between groups of workers and can weaken the unity of trade union members. This can only be effectively opposed by breaking the pay cap.

Paying for banking crisis

The motion was seconded by Andy Noble of the Fire Brigades Union who said: "We know that the attacks on pay emanate from the policies of central government to make public sector workers pay for a crisis we didn't create."

He described the impact of 8 years of pay freezes and caps on firefighters, with the average firefighter £900 worse off a year than 5 years ago.

He called for a series of major rallies across the UK and coordinated strike action to defeat the pay cap.

End the burden

Denise Ward of Unison said: "Millions of public sector workers have carried the burden of this government's attacks for far too long."

She said the "crumbs on table of the last 5 yrs stand in stark contrast with the pay of company chief executives whose pay is up 20%."

She highlighted that while public sector pay was capped at 1% gas bills have gone up by 32% and mortgage payments by 15%.

"Millions of public sector workers have carried the burden of this government's attacks for far too long," she added.

Stephen Conwell from Ucatt said: "It's time to empower our members and we must stand collectively in response.

"If we take action together on pay across public services we can defeat the austerity policies of these Tories and win a just and fair increase for our members."

High-profile campaign

Through the motion, which was carried, PCS called on the TUC's general council, the elected body responsible for carrying out the policies agreed bycongress, to immediately launch a high-profile campaign for an end to the pay cap including:

  • Actively supporting and coordinating strike action across the trade union movement
  • The TUC general secretary sending letters to the government and all public sector employers
  • A parliamentary petition and a national demonstration to build support for joint union action.

Read more reports from PCS at #TUC16.

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