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GMB Report Blasts Government for Ignoring 'forgotten’ 3 Million Public Sector Workers?

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


‘Government con trick’ sees billions stripped from budgets to deny real-pay rise to lower-paid 55 per cent of workers.

GMB, the union for public sector workers, accuses Theresa May of ignoring the ‘forgotten’ three million public sector staff in a major new report today [September 13 2017].

The majority of public sector workers – 55 per cent - including council workers, front-line school and police support staff, and civil servants are not covered by a Pay Review Body, [1]

For years, Pay Review Bodies have been under orders from the Government to keep pay recommendations at 1 per cent – while ministers like Michael Gove insist the bodies are the ones responsible for setting public sector pay. [2]

But the new report reveals that in order to enforce the cap on the 3 million public sector workers not subject to pay review bodies – the Government has stripped billions of pounds from the budgets of local Governments, schools and police forces. [3]

The publication, titled ‘Public Sector Pay and the Forgotten Three Million,’ follows the Government’s rejection of the Police Review Body’s recommendation for a 2 per cent consolidated increase in police pay.

GMB estimates that approximately £5 billion has been taken from DCLG budgets in connection with the one per cent cap between 2013/14 and 2019/20.

The report reveals:

·        The Government pinched £737 million from local government wage budgets in just two years to enforce the pay cap

·        The annual public sector bill for agency and temporary workers has risen by £2.5 billion since 2012/13

·        Local authority workers are paid 22 per cent below the public sector average

·        Average teaching assistant pay has risen by 2.7 per cent between 2011 and 2016 - compared to 7.9 per cent CPI inflation?

·        85 per cent of unitary local authorities say they are encountering recruiting and retention problems

·        The voluntary turnover rate for PCSOs increased from 8 per cent in 2010/11 to 15 per cent in 2016/17

·        Public sector workers are twice as likely to work unpaid overtime as those in the private sector, and the pay cap is affecting 2.4 million children

·        Despite claiming that they respect the recommendations of the Pay Review Bodies, Ministers have rejected the recommendations of two review bodies (for police officers and NHS workers) and abolished the negotiating body for school support staff

Rehana Azam, GMB National Secretary for Public Services, said:

“It’s a myth that Pay Review Bodies set public sector pay. Most workers aren’t covered by a Pay Review Body in the first place but they all have been subject to the divisive pay cap.

“This new report explodes the false claim that the pay cap does not apply outside of the Pay Review Body professions.

"Billions have been pinched from wage budgets and individual workers across the whole public sector.

“Social workers and PCSOs are on the front-line by any definition, but Ministers are now trying to wash their hands of them.

“We stand against all attempts to divide and rule over public sector workers. We need proper pay rises for teaching assistants as well as teachers, and police support staff as well as police officers.

“This Government con trick should convince no one. Theresa May and Philip Hammond won’t get a hearing on pay until they face up to their responsibility for pay throughout public services.

“The unfair and pernicious cap has caused lasting damage across the public sector. Recruitment and agency costs are spiralling out of control and it’s questionable whether the policy is saving any money at all.

“That’s why GMB and other unions are demanding a pay rise of at least 5 per cent to start to restore at least some of the quality of life that has been stolen from our dedicated members.

“GMB is proud to support all our members and to stand up for the forgotten three million who are being ignored by Tory politicians.

"We won’t stop campaigning until they have all received a decent pay rise.”


Contact: GMB Press Office on 07958 156846 or at

Notes for editors

[1] GMB report, End the Public Sector Pay Pinch – Public Sector Workers and the Forgotten Three Million, published Wednesday 13 September 2017:

[2] Interview on The Andrew Marr Show, 02 July 2017,

[3] Figures taken from a Statement on RDEL Revisions by Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary of the Treasury, 08 December 2011:

[4] Table from the report – workers who are not covered by Pay Review Bodies:?


Pay Review Bodies

Not covered by a Pay Review Body

NHS workers

Local Government workers

Doctors and Dentists

School support staff

School Teachers

FE and HE staff

Armed Forces

Civil servants (excluding those on senior salaries)

Prison Service

Social care workers

Senior Salaries (judiciary, senior civil service and senior armed forces)

Non-Departmental public body employees

National Crime Agency

MoD civilian staff

Police Officers

Police staff


Outsourced workers in public service roles


[5] Table of estimated total cumulative losses by occupation for workers who are not covered by a Pay Review Body:

GMB estimates of total real-terms (CPI) salary cuts 2010 to 2020

Job Title

Total to be pinched 2010 – 2020

Police Data Input Clerk


Catering Assistant


Personal Care Assistant


Police Administrative Assistant


Office Cleaner


School Lab Technician


Teaching Assistant


Library Assistant


Refuse Collector




Cover Supervisor


Police Custody Officer


Qualified Residential Care Worker


Scene of Crime Investigator


Higher Level Teaching Assistant


Social Worker


Average Public Sector Worker


Library Manager


Higher Level Teaching Assistant (SEN Specialist)


NHS Waiting List Co-ordinator


Housing Officer


Homelessness Prevention Officer


Residential Warden


School Business Manager



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