Government austerity measures have left public sector workers an average of £2,245 a year worse off in real terms, the TUC has claimed.
It warned a combination of pay freezes and limited wage increases has left 450,000 workers in local government alone living below the living wage.
The figures have been released ahead of a national strike by public workers across England and Wales tomorrow [THURS].
Taking into account inflation, a refuse collector at the top of the pay scale is missing out on £2,950 having seen earnings rise by just £330 since the last general election. According to the TUC’s calculations, that figure stands at £3,310 a year in real terms for a nursery assistant.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘The economy may be picking up, but having paid the price in pay freezes and below inflation pay increases for several years there is to be no financial let up for town hall employees and other public sector workers. For them there are no shares to be had in the UK’s economic recovery. Instead several more years of penny-pinching and frugal living lie ahead.
‘In local government – and right across the public sector – workers believe that ministers neither care about nor understand the pressures on their already stretched household budgets.
‘Meanwhile the government seems happy for the public purse to miss out on billions through income tax cuts for the wealthy and corporation tax reductions for big businesses, yet says there’s no money to give a decent pay rise to struggling care assistants, nursery workers, dinner ladies and other local authority employees.
‘It won’t have been an easy decision for hard-pressed public sector workers to vote to lose a day’s pay this week, nor will they take delight in any disruption caused to the public. But if the government continues to hold down pay, our public services will struggle to hold onto and recruit skilled and dedicated staff. When that happens we all pay the price.
‘Spending cuts, attacks on their pay and pensions, thousands of posts lost through redundancies – all have taken their toll on a demoralised public sector workforce. Public servants have understandably had enough – now is the time for ministers to start listening and to realise that it was never going to be possible to keep the lid on the public sector forever.’
Read the findings of our survey to find out why council staff think the strike will not improve wages.