Today the government announced that around one million public sector workers are to get their biggest pay rise in almost a decade – but omitted civil servants from its list of beneficiaries.
A raft of public servants including soldiers, teachers and prison officers are in line for pay rises of between 2% and 3.5% for 2018-19. Pay guidance issued by the Treasury and Cabinet Office in June limited civil service pay to between 1 and 1.5%.
Prospect trade union said today’s announcement confirmed that civil servants had been put “at the back of the queue on public sector pay”, and it reiterated its demand for the pay guidance to be withdrawn.
The union, alongside the FDA and PCS, has threatened the government with legal action unless the pay guidance was recinded, and a proper consultation launched with civil service unions, which they said did not take place the first time around.
Today’s announcement pledges a 2.9% increase for members of the Armed Forces (0.9% of it non-consolidated), around 3.5% for most teachers (although reducing to 2% for upper pay range and 1.5% for leadership posts), 2.75% for prison officers (0.75% of it non-consolidated), 2% for police officers; and at least 2% for doctors and dentists.
NHS staff including nurses were offered a 6.5% rise over three years in March.
Unlike the NHS pay announcements, the Treasury will not be funding any of the rises revealed today. They will instead be funded from departmental budgets.
The government said: “Current and future affordability across the whole public sector was considered when agreeing final awards, alongside the advice of the pay review bodies.
“This is to ensure that resources are available to invest in public service improvement, and that awards are sustainable without an increasing burden of debt being passed onto future generations.
“The UK already spends around £50bn a year on debt interest, more than is spent on the police and armed forces combined.”
Prospect deputy general secretary Garry Graham said: “Today’s pay deals for the armed forces, prison workers and teachers are welcome but confirm what we have long suspected, this government have put civil servants firmly at the back of the queue on public sector pay.
“Instead of playing cynical divide and rule games with overworked and underpaid public sector workers the government should be committing to above inflation pay rises for all public servants, with no group left behind.
“In light of this news it is clear that the Civil Service Pay Remit guidance is totally indefensible, and the government must now withdraw it or face legal action from civil service unions.”
The civil service's biggest union, PCS, announced on Monday that its members had voted for a walkout over pay – but had failed to meet the required turnout for legal strike action.
Some 85% of those who voted backed a strike, the union said, but only 41% of overall members cast their ballots, short of the 50% threshold required by law.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Our members have delivered a huge yes vote for strike action and will feel palpable anger at not being able to exercise their democratic right to withdraw their labour."
The threshold were brought in under the Trade Union Act in 2015.