Workers 'worse off since 2010'

York Press: Firefighters are among those worse off since the coalition Government came to power in 2010, according to the TUC Firefighters are among those worse off since the coalition Government came to power in 2010, according to the TUC

Teachers, firefighters, civil servants, NHS staff and council workers are more than £2,200 worse off on average since the coalition came to power because their pay has been held down, according to a new study.

The TUC said the Government's "mean-spirited" approach to pay has had a huge impact on the spending power of millions of households.

The research, published ahead of a strike by over a million public sector workers tomorrow, showed that pay had been frozen or limited to below inflation since 2010.

The policy has left public servants £2,245 worse off on average in real terms, with workers facing another four years of below-inflation rises, said the TUC.

The union organisation warned that morale among public sector workers was being "hit hard" as their pay continues to lag behind prices.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "The economy may be picking up, but having paid the price in pay freezes and below inflation pay increases for several years there is to be no financial let up for town hall employees and other public sector workers. For them there are no shares to be had in the UK's economic recovery. Instead several more years of penny-pinching and frugal living lie ahead.

"In local government - and right across the public sector - workers believe that ministers neither care about nor understand the pressures on their already stretched household budgets.

"Meanwhile the Government seems happy for the public purse to miss out on billions through income tax cuts for the wealthy and corporation tax reductions for big businesses, yet says there's no money to give a decent pay rise to struggling care assistants, nursery workers, dinner ladies and other local authority employees.

"It won't have been an easy decision for hard-pressed public sector workers to vote to lose a day's pay this week, nor will they take delight in any disruption caused to the public. But if the government continues to hold down pay, our public services will struggle to hold onto and recruit skilled and dedicated staff.

"Spending cuts, attacks on their pay and pensions, thousands of posts lost through redundancies - all have taken their toll on a demoralised public sector workforce. Public servants have understandably had enough - now is the time for ministers to start listening and to realise that it was never going to be possible to keep the lid on the public sector forever."

The TUC looked at how the pay of specific jobs in local government has been "squeezed" over the last four years by calculating how much worse off council employees will be in real terms by the end of this year than they would have been had their pay increased in line with RPI inflation since April 2010, which showed:

:: A home help who has been at the top of her pay scale for four years was earning £13,189 at the beginning of 2010. She is now earning £13,621 - an increase of £432 since 2010. But had her pay increased in line with inflation, she would now be earning £15,820, which means that she's lost out on £2,199 in real terms.

:: Under the same analysis a refuse collector on the top of his pay scale has missed out on £2,950 in real terms. He was earning £16,440 in 2010 and is now on £16,770, an actual increase of just £330.

:: A nursery assistant who has reached the top of his pay scale and is now paid £18,824 has seen his pay rise by £371 since the Government came to office. Had his pay increased in line with RPI, he would now be earning £22,134, a loss of £3,310 in real terms.

:: A residential warden in sheltered accommodation , who has also reached the top of her pay scale, is short £4,853 in real terms. Back in 2010 she was on £27,052, and now earns £27,596, an increase of £544 over the last four years.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union said: " Wages are falling further behind the cost of living and in the last four years some civil servants have seen their income fall by 20%.

"Unequal pay is also rife, with some paid thousands of pounds less than their colleagues doing similar work, and women paid up to 14% less than men.

"The meagre economic recovery is only benefiting the rich, we need a recovery for everyone. We need an alternative to cuts where we invest in public services to help our economy to grow, where jobs are created, not cut, and where we clamp down on the corporate tax dodgers who deprive our economy of tens of billions of pounds a year."

Home helps, lollipop men and women, refuse collectors, librarians, dinner ladies, parks attendants, council road safety officers and their local authority colleagues will be joined on strike by teachers, firefighters, civil servants and transport workers who have ongoing disputes over pay, pensions and working conditions.

A Government spokesperson said: "The Government recognises and greatly values the contribution of public sector workers.

"The difficult decisions we have taken on public sector pay restraint since 2010 have saved around £12 billion, helping maintain front line services and thousands of public sector jobs, while still protecting the low paid."

Asked whether the Prime Minister had sympathy for public sector workers earning less than the living wage, David Cameron's official spokesman said: "The Government has had to take difficult decisions with regard to public sector pay.

"The Government will continue to have to take difficult decisions across areas of public expenditure as we continue to deal with the deficit, which results from the great recession.

"In terms of the living wage, the Government and the Prime Minister support employers in decisions that they take to be able to pay the living wage. It is for individual employers to take those decisions."

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