Civil servants demand the government ‘scrap the cap’ on their pay

Workers say their take home pay has stayed the same for almost a decade.

Civil servants protested outside their workplaces in dozens of towns and cities around the UK today to demand the government lift a cap on their pay.

Pay was frozen for two years in 2010. Since 2012 salaries have only been allowed to rise by 1% each year.

As a result average civil service pay fell by between £2,000 and £3,500 in real terms between 2010 and 2016 – a larger decline than the rest of the public sector and the wider economy.

Hector Wesley, the Public and Commercial Services Union HMRC Vice President, said his pay packet had been the same for nearly ten years.

He told Left Foot Forward:

“The main reason why me and a lot of my colleagues and union members are protesting today is that actual current pay hasn’t increased for many of us for nearly a decade. That is the key reason.

There has been inflation, prices have gone up but, you know, I checked my pay packet this month and I compared it to my pay packet ten years ago and it’s hardly any different.

The demonstrations today coincided with the cap being imposed for another year.

Workers say the cap, along with changes to pensions and an increase in National Insurance contributions, is having an impact on their living standards.

“What tends to happen is the longer this goes on you start to more and more have to watch the pennies,” Wesley said, “because what you find is your disposable income is less than it was previously and thats the reality.”

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said:

“Civil and public service workers keep our public services running but, like workers right across the public sector, their take-home pay has been cut year on year.

“With rising inflation, more hardworking staff are being pushed into poverty. The Tories are responsible for this fall in living standards, having held down public sector pay for seven years.”

Labour MPs Dan Carden and Laura Pidcock tweeted their support for the protesters under the hashtag #scrapthecap.

PCS said the pay cap has come under widespread scrutiny recently, with 70% of the public supporting an end to the cap.

The union said the government’s plan to keep the 1% cap in place until 2020 seriously undermined the prime minister’s claim that she wants to help “just managing” families.

“Theresa May’s government has lost all authority on the pay cap,” Serwotka said. “Ministers can and must act immediately to increase the wages of their own workforce.”

Wesley said the turnout today was good, but some civil servants had been dealing with the cap for such a long time they had lost confidence in the union’s ability to ‘force the government to bend’.

“Key for me is to keep up the pressure until the autumn budget and then hopefully there will be some movement,” he said.

“The pay cap has gone on for far too long and the government has got to see sense. It really has to.”

Charlotte England is writer at Left Foot Forward and a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter.

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