George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has already said that he wants to limit public sector pay rises to 1% once the current pay freeze ends, and has said he wants to push for regional pay bargaining – which will increase inequalities between public-sector workers in different regions of the UK. Ed Balls, the Shadow Chancellor, has echoed the call for pay rises in the public sector to be limited to 1%. This is an unfair move that will chip away at our wages further. Already, as Len McCluskey points out, a teaching assistant is losing in real terms (when taking into account the impact of inflation) £2600 as a result of the pay freeze. This will continue after 2013, if inflation is 4 or 5% while our pay rises are limited to 1%.
The claim is sometimes made that pay freezes will save jobs. However, the sad reality is that, while the pay freeze is in effect, the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government has said they aim to cut 700,000 jobs from the public sector. We are thus getting the worst of both worlds – our wages are being cut in real terms and lots of our colleagues are losing their jobs.