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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 March 2007, 18:36 GMT
Anger at public sector pay offer
Nurses
Medical staff are among those affected
Unions have reacted with anger to below-inflation pay rises for health and other public sector workers.

Chancellor Gordon Brown told MPs he had accepted recommendations from the pay review body that awards be kept within the government's 2% inflation target.

Nurses will get a 1.9% rise, while GPs will get no increase. The armed forces will get 3.3% and consultants 1.3%.

The CPI inflation measure targeted by the government is 2.7%. The old Retail Price Index currently stands at 4.2%.

Before the detailed figures were released, Mr Brown told MPs in the Commons: "The overall awards come within the inflation target at 1.9% demonstrating our total determination to maintain discipline and stability and continue with an 11th year of sustained economic growth."

PAY INCREASES
GPs 0%
Dentists 2%
Junior doctors 3%
Senior military 2%
Senior civil service 1.4%
Judiciary 2.4%
Prison officers in England and Wales 2.5%

The Transport and General Workers Union said the pay rises were a "slap in the face" for public sector workers.

The increases are the lowest over the past 10 years, and by bringing in the pay review bodies' recommendations in two stages - part in April and the rest in November - the Treasury is saving an estimated 200m.

Nurses will get 1.5% in April and 1% in November, which works out at about 1.9% over the year - but Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said nurses would get an overall increase of 4.4% once annual progression increases were included.

She said: "We appreciate that nurses will be disappointed by the staging of their award."

It is a real let down for Britain's nurses and other health professionals who really do deserve better
Karen Jennings
Unison

Other increases announced include: Junior doctors 3%; dentists 2%; senior military 2%; senior civil service 1.4%; the judiciary 2.4%; prison officers in England and Wales 2.5% and prison officers in Northern Ireland 2%.

The staging of increases, as well as the level, has angered various unions, who have said they will consult their members on the offer.

Unison, the UK's largest health union, said the rise amounted to "nothing more than a pay cut" as the retail price index was at 4.2%

Its head of health, Karen Jennings, said: "We believe that 2.5% is low enough without reducing its value even further by paying it in two stages.

"That means it is worth a paltry 1.9%, and it is a real let down for Britain's nurses and other health professionals who really do deserve better."

'Deeply disappointed'

The Royal College of Nursing's general secretary Dr Peter Carter said: "Having worked closely with the government to modernise the NHS, bring down waiting times and improve patient care, this is the thanks hard-working nurses get - a cut in pay.

If pay is feeding into inflation, the chancellor should look to City bonuses and top boardrooms for the culprits
Brendan Barber
TUC general secretary

"This news will leave nurses feeling angry, frustrated and let down."

The Royal College of Midwives warned that midwives would also be angry.

Spokesman Jon Skewes said: "Midwives carry out vital work and treating their dedication in this derisory way is frankly disgusting. We will consult our members but the college is deeply disappointed."

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Cutting real pay runs the risk of starting the same spiral of boom and bust in public sector pay that hindered previous governments.

"If pay is feeding into inflation, the chancellor should look to City bonuses and top boardrooms for the culprits."

Amicus said: "We congratulate the work the pay review body has done but we are unhappy that the Treasury have imposed a staged pay deal, which makes a mockery of the review body's independence."

The rise of 3.3% for the armed forces was not enough for former infantry soldier Steve McLaughlin.

"Professional soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan should be earning the same wages at least as a fireman, a paramedic or a policeman because their training is equal or greater to the training those other people receive," he told BBC Five Live.

"They've got frontline jobs as well, but believe you me - and I've done the job - you can't get more front line than patrolling down Basra and coming under enemy fire."


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Public sector workers' anger over pay offer



SEE ALSO
Family doctors get 0% pay award
01 Mar 07 |  Health
Brown 'faces 20bn funding gap'
31 Jan 07 |  Business
UK inflation at near-decade high
12 Dec 06 |  Business
Graduate nurses face job shortage
17 Oct 06 |  Leicestershire

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