TUC chief refuses to rule out wave of union-backed STRIKES if Rishi Sunak freezes public sector pay

Britain could be hit by a wave of strike action if Rishi Sunak goes ahead with a public sector pay freeze, a senior trade union leader warned today.

Frances O’Grady, the TUC president, lashed out at reports suggesting that only doctors and nurses will escape a throttling of pay as the Government seeks to balance the books.

She spoke amid reports that the Chancellor will prevent more than five million public sector workers getting inflation-busting pay rises while many private sector counterparts face wage freezes or redundancy.

Only Britain’s half a million frontline NHS nurses and doctors would be exempt, in recognition of their heroics during the pandemic. 

Mr Sunak defended his plans today, saying they did not amount to ‘a return to  austerity’ seen under the Tories in the past decade. 

But speaking on Sky’s Ridge on Sunday today, Ms O’Grady, head of the federation of trade unions, branded them ‘morally obscene’.

Asked about comments by PCS union leader Mark Serwotka last week that strike action could not be ruled out, she said:  ‘Nobody can rule anything out at the moment. 

Frances O’Grady, the TUC president, lashed out at reports suggesting that only doctors and nurses will escape a throttling of pay as the Government seeks to balance the books.

The Chancellor will prevent more than five million public sector workers getting inflation-busting pay rises while many private sector counterparts face wage freezes or redundancy.

‘But what I am saying and asking for is that the Government stands by key workers, respects the contribution they are continuing to make, recognises that this is absolutely the wrong time to be talking about pay cuts, and instead we need to start talking about fairness.’ 

Mr Sunak is expected to unveil a cap on wage increases set at or below inflation. It would hit workers such as teachers, police, civil servants, NHS managers and members of the Armed Forces. 

The dramatic move is expected to save billions at a time when the public finances have been plunged deep into the red.

But it will be controversial as public sector staff have been lauded for their efforts to tackle the virus. Eight years of pay restraint came to an end only in 2018.

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