Prime minister Rishi Sunak has made a final offer on public sector pay. Or so he says. The PM said in a speech that the government would be not budging on future strikes, but also that pay rises would not come from taxes or cuts. Barring a magic money tree, how’s he going to manage this, then?
It seems he plans to put the cost on migrant workers. This will be done through visa fees and charges for using the NHS that migrants will have to pay. So, in other words, he’s punishing migrants for the Tories own poor economic management.
That’s why the decision has been difficult, and why it has taken time to decide the right course of action. I can confirm today that we are accepting the headline recommendations of the pay review bodies in full, but we will not fund them by borrowing more or increasing your taxes.
According to Politico, the money will also be made up by freezing recruitment in some departments:
The government promised that a rise in visa fees and extra charges on migrant workers using the health service will meet some of the cost while there will be a civil service recruitment freeze in the Ministry of Defense until March 2025.
The planned pay rises will go to doctors, police officers, teachers, prison officers and senior civil servants. But, Sunak maintains that further rises will make the cost of living crisis worse. Yet not everyone is convinced.
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The reaction among different militant sectors has been varied. Teachers, for example, look set to end their strikes. But doctors look ready to press on. Unite general secretary Sharon Graham told reporters:
I think we’ll be seeing a new wave of industrial action.
It also has to be said that many people simply did not believe there would be no cuts. Diane Abbott applauded the workers for beating the Tory government, but said services would be cut to fund the rises:
Striking workers have done well to force the government into this.
But with real pay falling it is not enough to prevent staff leaving. And Sunak is butchering services to fund it.
Sunak offers at least 6% pay rise to millions of public sector workers https://t.co/HIPlZxxezX
— Diane Abbott MP (@HackneyAbbott) July 14, 2023
Meanwhile one trade unionist warned Sunak about his tone, reminding him workers are also voters:
MEMO to Rishi Sunak.
PM, you need to pause & reflect on the tone & content of your "Pay award" speech today.
The arrogant contempt in which you appear to hold public sector workers does you no credit.
Just bear in mind, the workers to whom you addressed your remarks are voters.
— Clare Hepworth OBE (@Hepworthclare) July 13, 2023
And even a Liberal Democrat got it, in this case party leader Ed Davey:
Rishi Sunak's refusal to stump up the extra money needed for public sector pay rises will mean savage cuts to budgets for local schools and hospitals.
You deserve answers about where these cuts will fall and how many more Conservative promises will end up on the scrap heap.
— Ed Davey (@EdwardJDavey) July 13, 2023
One immigration lawyer pointed out that fees and surcharges for migrants in the UK are already some of the steepest in the world:
Rishi Sunak has proposed partially paying for salary increases in the public sector by increasing immigration visa fees and increasing the immigration health surcharge… Our fees are ALREADY some of the highest in the world… A brief thread on this…. 1/
— Katie Newbury (@KatieNewburyKN) July 13, 2023
Sunak’s attempt to look like the adult in the room has fallen flat. There will certainly be cuts in one form or another. And putting an additional burden on hard-pressed migrants is just quintessential Toryism.
As for striking workers, having forced this concession, this is exactly the moment to recommit yourself to more militant trade unionism.Support us and go ad-free
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