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Pay Pinch Key To Tory Election Losses

Wednesday, June 14, 2017



Public sector workers outstripped majority in over 80% of the seats lost by the party in Thursday’s election.

New analysis from GMB, the union for public service workers, reveals the Conservative’s seven year squeeze on public sector pay may have cost them dozens of seats in last week’s general election [1].

It comes as GMB, along with other unions, submits a pay claim for local government employees in schools and councils across England, Wales and Northern Ireland seeking to narrow the growing gap between declining wages and the rising cost of living.

The unions' claim for the year from next April seeks to move the lowest paid staff onto the real living wage of £8.45 an hour (£9.75 in London).

In addition the unions want all employees to receive a five per cent pay rise. [2]

It comes just after a day after CPI inflation shot up to 2.9% – reaching its highest rate since April 2012.

GMB’s analysis of last Thursday’s results supports claims by Prime Minister’s Theresa May’s new chief of staff Gavin Barwell, who lost his own Croydon Central seat last week, that the squeeze was a factor in the Conservative’s diminished electoral performance [3].

Former civil service head Lord Bob Kerslake has also since warned, following the General Election, that ‘the consensus on public-sector pay will have to be revised” [4].

GMB is leading the campaign to ‘end the public sector pay pinch’, highlighting the impact the impact the Conservatives’ 10 year pay squeeze would have – with local government workers, school support staff and NHS public servants set to lose thousands in real-terms by 2020 under Theresa May’s plans [5].

Polling in March 2017 under taken for GMB by Survation revealed 3 in 4 adults (75%) would support an above inflation increase in public sector wages this year – with the move to end the public sector pay pinch gaining approval among those intending to vote Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Labour and UKIP [6].

Rehana Azam, GMB National Secretary for Public Services said:

“The 1 per cent cap is sucking the lifeblood out of our public services.

"Theresa May should realise the catastrophic damage her refusal to change course on her pay pinch has done to teaching assistants, local government workers and dedicated NHS staff. It’s time to kill this vampiric policy once and for all.

“Too many public sector workers are stressed, overworked, squeezed by pension hikes, at risk of job cuts – and, yes, underpaid. They need fair compensation to catch-up with almost a decade of cuts to their living standards, which is why the joint local government and school support staff unions are demanding a pay award of at least 5 per cent.

“Since 2010 the Conservatives have thought they could squeeze public sector workers till the pips squeaked.

"No more. Whether it’s through quiet contributions every day, or the heroism of our emergency services during moments of national tragedy, the public sector has proved its worth.”


Contact: GMB press office on 07958 156846 or at

Notes to editors

[1] GMB analysis reveals the number of public sector workers outstripped majority in 27 of the 33 seats (81%) lost by the party in Thursday’s election

See table:


[3] Theresa May's chief of staff Gavin Barwell: Austerity and Brexit cost us, BBC (12 June 2017)

[4] Election result: Conservative minority spells end of the public sector pay squeeze says Lord Bob Kerslake, Civil Service World (9 June 2017)

[5] GMB calculates the public sector pay pinch would cost workers the following in real-terms (2010-2020):

Average Public Sector Worker - £13,027

Teaching Assistant - £8,867

Ambulance Fleet Assistant - £9,679

Qualified Residential Care Worker - £11,709 999

Call Handler - £11,263

Housing Officer - £14,675

Staff Nurse - £18,360

Midwife - £22,702

[6] Survation surveyed 1,019 people online on 2-3 March 2017. Data were weighted to the profile of all UK adults aged 18+. Survation are a member of the British Polling Council and abide by their rules. [see attached – tables 7-8] 3 in 4 adults (75%) said they would support an above inflation increase in public sector wages this year - 69% of people currently intending to vote Conservative were supportive. 85% of Labour supporters, 79% of Liberal Democrat supporters and 74% of UKIP supporters indicated they would all back this decision.

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