Page last updated at 12:27 GMT, Tuesday, 10 June 2008 13:27 UK

Focus on public pay flashpoints

Striking civil servant
Public sector workers are increasingly unhappy with the 2% pay target.
The Police Federation has lost its High Court bid to have a 2.5% pay rise backdated.

The defeat comes less than three weeks after police officers voted by a large majority to lobby the government for the right to strike over pay.

Other public sector workers and unions are also unhappy with their pay awards - which the government says need to be kept low if inflation is to be controlled.

Later this month, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) will stage a one-day strike in protest.

What are the key potential flashpoints for the year ahead?


An estimated 8,000 schools in England and Wales will be affected by the NUT strike on Thursday.

Teachers in the NUT have rejected their review body's recommended pay increase - equating to a 2.45% rise for this year with a further rise of 2.3% in 2009 and 2010.

The NUT wants pay rises equivalent to the rate of inflation as measured by the Retail Prices Index - currently running at 3.8%.

More strikes are in prospect if the government refuses to increase its offer.

Lecturers who work in further education colleges and who are members of the University and College Union are also planning to strike.

The other big teachers' unions, the NASUWT and the ATL, have accepted the review body's recommendations and will not be taking industrial action.


Around 700 coastguards who are members of the Public and Commercial Services Union began a 24-hour strike at 1900 on Wednesday.

PCS members working in the Department for Work and Pensions, Department for Transport, Land Registry and Home Office are also taking industrial action.

It means possible disruption to job centres, benefits offices and driving examinations.

The PCS, which represents 270,000 workers, has already staged a number of 24-hour stoppages over pay and in protest at 100,000 job cuts announced by the government in 2004.

Following negotiations, the PCS says it has won concessions on the job losses. But it wants to step up its pay campaign.

Like other unions threatening industrial action, it wants pay increases more closely aligned to inflation, rather than the 2% government target.


In March, prison officers voted overwhelmingly to turn down a 2.2% pay deal. It could lead to renewed confrontation with the government - last year thousands of officers in England and Wales walked out in a surprise "wildcat" strike.

Then, all 129 jails in England and Wales were affected, with many inmates confined to their cells or not delivered to their trials.

Other prisoners were "locked out" of prison because there were no officers to receive them and several instances of "prisoner unrest" were recorded.

On strike: teachers, civil servants, coastguards
Unhappy with pay deal: police, prison officers
Likely to accept pay deal: Nurses, NHS workers

A new law making strike action by prison officers in England and Wales a criminal act came into force on 8 May.

Officers are appealing to the European Court of Human Rights over the legislation.


Legally prohibited from going on strike, the Police Federation took its fight to the courts to overturn a government decision not to backdate pay rises.

But it was refused a judicial review of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's refusal to backdate a 2.5% pay rise for 140,000 police in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

High Court judges said Ms Smith had not acted unlawfully.

Feelings were high in January, when thousands of police officers marched in protest through Westminster. Many called for the no-strike rule to be scrapped and in May officers in England and Wales voted to lobby the government for the right to be allowed to walk out.

Scottish police have been awarded the full, backdated, pay rise - in accordance with recommendations from the official police pay review body.

The government argues the award is "appropriate", and is in line with inflation targets - in particular, it is within the government's 2% public sector pay limit.


Following negotiations with the government, the biggest health workers' union, Unison, is to ballot half a million health workers in England next month on whether they accept or reject a pay deal on offer.

If the workers reject it, then Unison warns strike action could follow.

The offer is worth 2.75%, 2.54% and 2.5% over three years, although Unison says a number of other clauses mean that around 60% of lower-paid union members will benefit by more than those amounts.

The union has also got its way on a number of other concessions it has been fighting for, namely increasing the minimum NHS wage in future years and winning an agreement that the pay deal will be reviewed if inflation increases sharply.

The Royal College of Nursing has recommended its 395,000 members accept a proposed three-year pay deal.

But the RCN wants to consult with its members before it finally decides. That consultation period ends on 28 May.

Other health workers, including those in the two general unions Unite and the GMB, are still considering their pay offer.

Graph showing average increase in nominal earnings 1997-2006 for different public servants

Schools shut in public pay unrest
24 Apr 08 |  Education
Brown 'standing firm' on economy
15 Apr 08 |  UK Politics
Pay deal offered to NHS workers
08 Apr 08 |  Scotland

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