- Why do the UK public sector workers hold massive and continuous strikes?
- How can the public sector unions negotiate with the government over pay rises?
- What is the best response to mitigate the financial impacts of the UK strikes?
The UK public sector workers’ talks with the government over pay rise have failed, and the strikes will continue. The UK unions have lost faith in the pay review bodies and will boycott the process. The UK ministers must replace current policies with more independent and fairer economic rules.
Waves of Strikes Disturb the Public Services
As the cost-of-living crisis has soared across the UK, strikes have been happening widely. British rail workers went on strike before and after Christmas. Nurses went on a wave of strikes, the largest strike in the Royal College of Nursing’s 106-year history. Postal workers also went on strikes over pay and working conditions. Teachers and health workers have announced new waves of strikes in February.
Westminster Aims to Mitigate Strikes’ Impacts
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released that 467,000 working days in November were lost due to strikes. The walkouts have impacted the public sector. Therefore, the government decided to introduce laws to mitigate them. Accordingly, the UK government should meet the minimum levels of services unless workers will lose their jobs. The law targets the education sector, health, transport, and fire and rescue services.
British Unions Demand Democracy
The UK unions have dismissed the government’s decision and called it undemocratic. By such laws, the UK government will have the power to unilaterally stop the workers of specific sectors. The public sector services in the UK must have a legal right to protest and express their will. The public sector services in the UK are demanding higher payments.
The Public Sector Gets Less than the Private Sector
Real-term pay has fallen so fast at the end of 2022 compared with the two decades before. The public sector pay needs to catch up to the private sector and adjust to the two-digit inflation. Although the inflation rate dropped from a four-decade record of 11.1 to 10.7, it still squeezes the households’ budgets. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has discussed reducing inflation but has yet to talk of a good wage rise.
Low Payment Discourages Workers
The financial pressure is making the public workers exhausted and discouraged. They have asked for higher pay to handle the higher living costs. The pay review bodies must protect the workers’ rights by advising the government on payment. The body presents evidence and suggests the wages to the UK government for each year. However, unions have lost faith in the pay review bodies.
Pay Review Bodies Do Not Protect Rights
The current wage policies raise questions about the independence of pay review bodies. The UK unions have lost faith in the pay review bodies and said they need more autonomy and influence. The eight pay review bodies in the UK analyze evidence and research and then offer pay deals. The unions have threatened to boycott the pay review body’s recommendation and demand direct negotiations with ministers.
Public Sector Payment Is Unfair
With the high inflation and soaring living costs, the UK public sector’s wages are unfair. Unions have lost faith in the pay review bodies and think the government is using them for cover. The Unite union representing 100,000 public sector workers said the bodies because they are not fit for purpose. The GMB union has decided to stop submitting evidence to the NHS pay review body.
Pay Review Bodies Are Not Independent
Governmental ministers fully support the process of the public sector’s payment decision, in contrast to the unions’ opinions. The unions have lost faith in the pay review bodies and widely considering boycotting the so-called independent process. The pay review system has yet to contend to secure the public sector workers’ rights this year. Therefore, the households are poorer and have to spend more.
Pay Review Bodies Should Represent Unions
The members of the pay review bodies keep a low profile and do not appear much in the public media. The experts, including human resources, sector experts, and economists, work in the bodies. Each body has six to eight members appointed by the prime minister or relevant secretary of state. And the UK unions have lost faith in the pay review bodies’ members and the independency of their decisions.
NHS Unions Distrust Pay Review Body
The public sector pay settlements are not inflation-matching, putting public services at risk. Britain’s health workers began strikes over the payment in late 2022 and will keep fresh strikes in 2023. Several health unions have already said they would not submit any evidence to the rigged NHS pay review system. The unions have lost faith in the pay review bodies and are calling for direct talks over wages.
The Process Is in Favor of the Government
Some unions have dubbed the pay review process a total farce that leaves workers in a difficult position. Westminster needs to increase the pay of public sector workers properly. The government has insisted that it met the recommendation of the pay review bodies. The coming Spring is the time for the new rounds of talks, and the unions have decided to boycott the pay review system.
Fairer Action Is Needed
The UK public workers are tired of the pressing financial burdens as they struggle to pay their bills. As they plan for a massive 24-hour strike on 1 February, the British public must prepare themselves. The UK government must think twice about the public sector and act pretty. The more the ministers ignore the unions, the more the ignorance hurts the British public.
Rise Wages, Save Strikes’ Loss
Britain will face more disruption as public sector workers are unsatisfied with their wages. Instead of raising wages, the UK government has been busy introducing new laws to boycott strikes. The loss of the continuing strikes is more than a fairer pay increase. Ministers must not hide behind the pay review system and should recognize the financial pressures on public workers.