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Wed 9 December 2009

Angry reaction from UNISON on attempts to curb public service pay

UNISON has reacted angrily to the possibility of a future cap on public sector pay and pensions, floated in Chancellor Alistair Darling's pre-budget report. He said "I can announce that, for the two years from 2011, we will seek to ensure that all public sector pay settlements be capped at 1 per cent."

Dave Prentis, UNISON's General Secretary 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.

"The people who earn most should pay the most. Instead we have the disgraceful spectacle of rich bankers threatening to leave the country if they don't get their massive bonuses. Where is their loyalty? In tough times the rich should show leadership, not run off to the nearest tax haven."

In Scotland, both public service pay and pensions are devolved and any similar aspirations will need to be decided by the Scottish Government.

Glyn Hawker, Scottish Organiser for Bargaining and Equality said "We will be pressing the Scottish Government not to adopt similar measures. It is their responsibility and they must take a responsible decision that benefits the economy and public services here.

"For every 1 a public sector work earns they spend 70p in their local community. Any squeeze on their pay will put a stranglehold on local businesses and services, cutting off much needed income.

UNISON has welcomed the proposals to impose a one-off levy on large bonuses in the banking sector and the introduction of measures to tackle tax avoidance and evasion. The potential increase in Scottish public finances as a result of the Barnett formula received a cautious welcome.

Glyn said "We don't know yet where the Treasury - announced additional moneys will be spent, but it is important that public services in Scotland and those who deliver them are fully funded to drive us out of recession, and continue to deliver quality services."

The union also reacted strongly against Tory suggestions of even more damaging cuts in public services. Dave Prentis said "We know that if our public services are cut just when our communities need them most, the manufacturing industry will also go into crisis. Manufacturing is dependent on public procurement to keep going. Attacking public service jobs and pay is misguided. It will make the recession worse. It will undo all the work that has been done towards giving our communities world-class services."

ENDS

For further information please contact: Glyn Hawker, Scottish Organiser 07876 441 237m) Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser 07958 122 409(m) Chris Bartter, Communications Officer 07715 583 729(m)

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