UNISON will unite and bring its whole strength to bear over the next few months against what general secretary Dave Prentis called "the most unjust pay policy I've ever seen". That was the message given at the pay summit where members met to discuss the government's attempt to limit public-sector pay over the next three years to just 2%. Inflation has been more than 4% for the past year, making 2% rises a pay cut in real terms. Pay rises in the private sector are running at around 3.5%-4%. Discussions took place on how to build and organise a campaign for the reward and pay rises public-service workers deserve, both across the 1.3-million strong union and across the six-million strong public service workforce, working with other unions in the various public-service sectors. The government says its pay policy, announced in last autumn's comprehensive spending review, is about tackling inflation but incomes experts pointed out that that public-sector pay isn't counted in the inflation index: and public-service pay rises don't increase inflation - repeating a message from leading economists, quoted in a Financial Times report headlined "Inflation driven by potatoes" - inflation is about the cost of what people buy, not what public-service providers earn.
In two weeks time, MPs are to vote on a 2.8% pay rise. Gordon Brown has urged them to accept 1.9% but MPs will get a free vote. The vote is based on recommendations from the Senior Salaries Pay Board. But 2.8% or even 1.9% on an annual salary of £60, 675 is still a big pay increase by my calculations - a lot more substantial than what a lot of our members are earning. This could be the last ime that MPs do get the chanc to vote on their pay increase though as a review is to be carried out to examine the use of objective criteria to establish MPs pay.