Public sector workers ‘down thousands of pounds’

Police officers and other emergency service personnel have seen their finances squeezed
Police officers and other emergency service personnel have seen their finances squeezed

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PUBLIC sector workers have responded in unified outrage, after the TUC revealed that their real wages were down by thousands of pounds.

Research from the TUC shows that the 1 per cent pay cap on public sector workers means that their wages have fallen behind the rate of inflation.

Their research shows that prison officers, paramedics and NHS dieticians are all down over £3,800 a year, while firefighters are down nearly £2,900.

Nuclear engineers and teachers are down approximately £2,500.

The public sector pay cap means that people working in these industries can receive a pay rise of one per cent each year – meanwhile, the target for national inflation is two per cent.

Workers across the public sector have seen their real wages fall since 2010, when the public sector pay cap was first introduced.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘Recent months have shown how brave and dedicated the people in our public services are.

‘It’s time to give all of our hardworking public servants the pay rise they’ve earned.’

Chairman of the Hampshire Police Federation John Apter believes that the time has come for the pay cap to be abolished, saying it is having a detrimental impact to the police force.

He said: ‘We have been subject to a pay freeze for a number of years – in real terms, police officers have seen a 15 per cent cut in wages.

‘We are seeing police officers rely on charities to buy food and put fuel in their cars, and some are contemplating whether they can afford to continue doing their job.

‘I have written to all of our MPs asking for a review, but it is all happening far too slowly.’

Nigel McCullen, chairman of the Fire Brigades Union, says that the service has gone from being a lifetime career choice to seeing people leave in their thousands.

He explained: ‘Firefighters in Hampshire are finding it increasingly difficult to support their families, pay the bills and put food on the table.

‘In the past, this was a career – I’ve spent 27 years as a firefighter and not once did I even consider leaving.

‘It just isn’t the same anymore – young people see their friends in the private sector with well-paid jobs, and are contemplating other careers. With the 1 per cent pay cap around, they want to go and do other things.

‘The squeeze is really starting to hit most of them – its a great job but it is not paying the bills anymore.’

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage says that the welfare of those in the public sector cannot be overlooked – despite voting against a rise in public sector pay on June 28.

She said: ‘I fully recognise that the context of policing has changed, and we will need to adapt to ensure that the Police are properly supported in their vital roles.

‘Hampshire Constabulary has a strong track record of cost effectiveness, and if there are concerns within the Force about sustainability, and the welfare of Officers, then these need to be taken seriously.

‘I will be meeting with Mr Apter over summer to discuss the important issues raised.’

On Saturday, July 22 at 11am the Portsmouth Trade Union Council will be hosting a ‘Scrap The Cap’ rally in Guildhall Square, with guest speakers Amanda Martin, national executive of the National Union of Teachers and Sean Hoyle, president of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union.

The opening rally will be followed by a short march through Commercial Road before returning to Guildhall Square for the guest speakers.