KEY WORKERS in the public sector face another year of “wages gloom” unless the government acts swiftly, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has warned. New analysis published by the union body shows that median pay in the public sector fell by 2.3 per cent in real terms in November – the equivalent of £60 a month. 

However, this squeeze on wage packets is set to get worse with inflation forecast to hit six per cent this year. The TUC says another year of falling real wages would be a “hammer blow to morale” for key workers in the public sector, after a “lost decade for pay”.

Separate analysis by the union body shows that many key workers are still earning thousands of pounds a year less – in real terms – than in 2010:

  • Nurses’ real wages are down more than £2,700 per year
  • Local government care workers are down more than £1,600 a year

The TUC says urgent action is needed to fix public sector pay.  After working on the frontline of the pandemic, many public sector key workers are at breaking point, warns the union body. A toxic mix of stagnating wages, excessive workloads, and a lack of recognition is deepening the staffing crisis in the NHS and other public services and forcing dedicated staff to quit their jobs.

The TUC is calling on the government to prioritise key worker pay in 2022 by:

  • Making sure all public service workers get a pay rise that at least matches the cost of living, through fully independent pay review bodies or collective bargaining

  • Restoring earnings lost over the last decade

  • Funding the public sector so that all outsourced workers are paid at least the real Living Wage, or get pay parity with directly-employed staff doing the same job.

  • Raise the national minimum wage to at least £10 per hour immediately.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:  “Hard work should pay for everyone. But millions of key workers – on the frontline of the pandemic – face another year of wages gloom. That is not right. The government must stop burying its head and get pay rising across the economy. Ministers cannot abandon families during this cost-of-living crisis.

“Our public service workers need a decent pay rise – especially after more than a decade of lost pay.  And we need a proper plan to tackle staff shortages across the public sector. Failure to act will be a hammer blow to morale at a time when many key workers feel exhausted and burnout.”

* Source: Trades Union Congress