The TUC set itself on a collision course with Gordon Brown on public sector pay last night by backing strike action by millions of public sector workers, foreshadowing a new “winter of discontent”.
Civil servants, local government workers, teachers, transport workers, prison officers and postal workers agreed with a unanimous show of hands at the TUC conference in Brighton to back coordinated strike action against the government’s 2% pay limit and privatisation of services.
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%.
The country’s biggest union is calling on the government to give more money to the NHS, amid fresh protests across the UK against plans to cut services.
Unison says the chancellor should use next week’s pre-Budget report to help NHS trusts tackle financial deficits.
Royal College of Nursing (RCN) head Beverley Malone said she hoped changes to the service would be made for clinical, not just financial, reasons.
Protests are taking place against cuts in various UK locations.
Unions have warned of a “summer of discontent” over job losses and cutbacks in the NHS, including threats of industrial action over the Government’s health reforms.
Health unions representing doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and other health workers said they were committed to a major campaign against the “breakneck” pace of change.
A lobby of Parliament is being planned for October and there will be rallies and demonstrations across the UK as well as fringe meetings at the TUC Congress and Labour Party annual conference in September.
Workers in NHS Logistics are already gearing up to vote over strikes in protest at their jobs being transferred to a private firm, and there could be other ballots.
Unison said it was “shocked” at the scale of recent job cuts,