Should public sector workers get a pay rise?

09:53 22 April 2015

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg at a news conference in London where he announced his party

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg at a news conference in London where he announced his party's plans for the public sector. Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Millions of teachers, nurses, police officers and other public sector workers will be spared further pay cuts under Liberal Democrat plans set out by Nick Clegg as he promised there was “light at the end of the tunnel” after years of austerity.

The Lib Dem leader vowed that wages for public sector staff would rise at least in line with inflation next year and the year after, ending the coalition’s pay restraint policy.

But the low rate of inflation means that workers could see a pay rise of just 0.2% in 2016-17, and the Lib Dem promise was met with a sceptical reaction from unions calling for a real hike in salary for their members.

Speaking at a Westminster press conference, Mr Clegg said he feared Britain may be “sleepwalking into a dangerous future”.

He claimed Ed Miliband could be “held hostage by a small band of left-wing separatists” while David Cameron would be “held to ransom by hard-right ideologues”.

Mr Clegg said: “There are just two weeks left to stop the right-wing threat to Britain.

“Ask yourself this: do you want Nigel Farage walking through the door of Number 10? Do you want Alex Salmond sat at the cabinet table? Or do you want the Liberal Democrats?”

Mr Clegg insisted every Lib Dem MP is a “barrier” between Number 10 and Ukip’s Mr Farage and the SNP’s Mr Salmond.

He reiterated his party was aiming to make Labour’s “reckless borrowing” and Chancellor George Osborne’s “ideological cuts” less likely.

Told the public sector pay policy would be seen as a bribe, Mr Clegg replied: “No. I hope not.

“I think everybody, at least certainly Liberal Democrats, believes the restraint we have asked of people in the public sector was a temporary measure as part of a contribution by the public sector to balance the books - and doing so in a way that minimises, or sought to minimise, job losses in the public sector.”

Pressed on whether the Lib Dems would go into coalition with a party proposing to freeze or cut public sector pay, Mr Clegg said the first line on the first page of the party’s manifesto outlined an intention to balance the books fairly.

He went on: “This is an absolutely perfect example of how we do it fairly - don’t ask yet more of the 5.5 million public sector workers who have made already a £12 billion contribution to balancing the books.

“So it’s very much at the heart of a fair approach to balancing the books ... and (Lib Dem education minister David Laws) and the team who worked on drafting the manifesto would not have decided to put that on the front page of our manifesto if it wasn’t a very real priority for us.”

23 comments

  • But in any case, don't believe a word of Nick Cleggs - he ain't gonna be around for much longer ! LibDums are soon gonna be as numerous as hand loom weavers and bus conductors! LoL

    Report this comment

    marty r

    Thursday, April 23, 2015

  • All these dudes in the private sector moaning about how hard it is for them - quit moaning and find a better job with an employer who values you at more than the minimum wage! Your poor conditions are your responsibility and nobody elses. It's a free market!

    Report this comment

    marty r

    Thursday, April 23, 2015

  • Edward. Well don't whinge about it - get a job driving a train then!

    Report this comment

    One Horse Town

    Thursday, April 23, 2015

  • The rail industry workers currently have the best deal. Although the railways were privatised 20 years ago, the staff had huge pay increases, are not subject to the pay freeze on the public sector as they are technically now in the private sector, yet still enjoy all their former public sector perks like final salary pensions, golden handshakes, generous sick pay, free rail travel etc etc

    Report this comment

    Edward Millionaireband

    Thursday, April 23, 2015

  • Paul H's comment is fair. It also raises the spectre of a federalised England under Labour allied with the SNP. Who can forget the excesses and corruption of the big northern councils and the likes of Hatton and T Dan Smith? Who wants to see yet more of our hard earned East Anglian money disappearing not only to fund Scottish indulgence but also Northern Labour heartlands' ideaologies and corruption? Going on past taxation and funding it seems unlikely that East Anglia would get any fairer deal under a more regionalised system than it does now or has in the past being net contributors to the economy now. Pretty galling to see the SNP weasels planning how to spend more of our money whilst manipulating the democratic process with their oversupply of constituencies half the size of East Anglian constituencies.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Thursday, April 23, 2015

  • Only when the private sector which pays the bills is seeing pay rises across the board. The pay is not the sole reason for teacher shortages-they are being talked up and designed to permit the employment of masses of dubiously qualified non British nationals in the future. I know PGCE holders who can't get a full time job because head teachers and academy managers would rather hire unqualified "tutors" and REALLY unqualified - as in little in the way of academic achievement-lesson supervisors. I also know graduates who would have gone into teaching if they had not been expected to pay £thousands in tuition fees and living costs to get a PGCE just to see their careers in the hands of the likes of Gradgrinds like Theodore Agnew and careerists like Rachel De Souza As for the NHS, I reckon there are workers in that sector, in admin and non clinical jobs doing very nicely in jobs with no commercial pressure and with good pension terms and they do not deserve pay rises yet. I also think that clinical workers need their working conditions reviewed and that nurse recruitment is low because of the graduate requirement for all nurses and because there is no real effort or obvious campaign to recruit in Sixth forms. What is obvious is the number of Labour candidates who work or have worked in the public sector and that they seem to fail to realise that the poor beggars on zero hours in the private sector or self employed and working all hours will be paying for the pay rises.

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    Daisy Roots

    Thursday, April 23, 2015

  • Every Leftist Government and Councils have a bloated public sector.Greece 90% government jobs. Plus for example.Liverpool, Newcastle Glasgow where they would vote for a monkey wearing a red tie top heavy public sector.Question who encouraged this? Answer fag end of last days of Labour Government Gordon Brown,Balls and Miliband their natural core voters and Unite Union their paymasters.

    Report this comment

    PaulH

    Thursday, April 23, 2015

  • Pablo, I don't think anyone disagrees that public sector should be paid a fair wage but that has to be in comparison with the private sector. Whilst there are many that do work hard, the idea that It is a vocation is no longer sustainable. The scandals within the health service, the UK dropping down the international education league and problems within the police all demonstrate an unfortunate reality that is also apparent in local government. Very, very few lose their jobs as a result of actions that bring those services into disrepute. To repeat they should receive a fair wage but only in comparison to the private sector.

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    andy

    Wednesday, April 22, 2015

  • There has been a public sector pay freeze for long enough. Teachers and other public sector workers are also having to put more into their pensions than 5 years ago - it amounts to a significant pay cut if inflation is taken into account. As private sector pay rises, there is a danger that there will be shortages, especially in teaching where 40% of newly trained teachers leave at the end of their first year. This needs to be looked at - the reasons are probably the pressures put on teachers and schools by government directives and Ofsted and the feeling that life is likely to be better paid and less stressful in the private sector. Scania's comments are beneath contempt. Many people enter public service with the notion that they are doing good for others (teachers, nurses, police etc), not for huge material riches. The present government seems to have done its best to belittle the idea of public service. Why shouldn't public servants be paid a fair wage?

    Report this comment

    pablo

    Wednesday, April 22, 2015

  • Tell that to the Doctors and Nurses you may need one day. If you home catches Fire, tell that to the Firemen who put the Flames out. Do you vote for the Tories by any chance?

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    Simon Bramley

    Wednesday, April 22, 2015

  • Frank Young--Of course many public sector workers earn less than the £28000 average but many earn more, that's why it's called an average. It is more than the average £26,500 average wage of the private secto,r where pension provision is no where close to that of the public sector. So no matter how you argue the case, public sector employees are on AVERAGE better off than private sector employees. As for retiring at 55. public sector employees are eligible for pension after 30 years service and many do, in fact in theory they could retire younger than 55. Tooty Frooty--- You need to supply some facts rather than ranting.

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    theanchovy

    Wednesday, April 22, 2015

  • SCANIA AND TOOTYFROOTY. Would love to see either of you 1. Stand in front of a rowdy class of teenagers and teach them something they're not interested in. 2. Go round to a house and break the news to parents that their son or daughter has been killed in a car accident. 3. Deal with an elderly patient that has messed their hospital bed for the fourth time in the middle of the night. Yes, these are jobs that people take on knowing the demands of the job BUT frankly, your right wing attitude and dependence on the same old Tory soundbites such as 'gold plated pensions' is not only unoriginal but laughingly dull.

    Report this comment

    One Horse Town

    Wednesday, April 22, 2015

  • a desperate nick clegg trying to avoid total wipeout . Instead of unaffordable pay rises why not take all the tax off petrol . Tax off petrol makes food cheaper and travel to work cheaper plus all goods and materials less . Its a bit late for clegg and the libdems . The local job centres are calling

    Report this comment

    milecross

    Wednesday, April 22, 2015

  • In answer to question in the headline – NO. It is time that workers in this country stopped expecting annual pay rises, both in the private and public sectors. Any additional pay should be earned by extra productivity and not just because another 12 months has past.

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    Norfolk John

    Wednesday, April 22, 2015

  • Here we go again...public sector workers need to get proper jobs....over paid....gold plated pensions.... And these comments come from people who no doubt expect a full 7 day per week NHS service, to see their GP whenever they want to, for the NHS to recruit thousands more nursing staff. Who the hell would EVER want to work in the public sector when there are so many hateful, jealous and misinformed fools out there?!

    Report this comment

    Tootyfrooty

    Wednesday, April 22, 2015

  • This is just more nonsense from the LibDems trying to buy votes. This from a party that said it would not put up tuition fees only for Cable and Clegg to do just that. In answer to Clegg's question, I would not the LibDems at the cabinet table either - they can't be trusted. With regard to public servants pay, all the credible research says that public sector employees are paid more than those carrying out comparable jobs in the private sector. Those at the 'top' especially receive far too much for the job they do with large payouts for failure or just changing jobs within the same public sector. Where in the private sector can you get paid very generous redundancy for swapping between jobs as you can in the so called NHS - this does not happen in the private sector!

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    andy

    Wednesday, April 22, 2015

  • If it's so nice working in the public sector, perhaps some of you should put your money where your mouth, quit your whinging and look for a "proper" job their instead. Many public sector workers are behind the scenes working in admin,clerical or equivalent manual roles in low paid jobs (nowhere near the £28000 quoted) and without any pay increase for six years or more and certainly won't be retiring at 55. Working conditions for teachers are the exception rather than the rule.

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    frank young

    Wednesday, April 22, 2015

  • In 1992 I left a public sector job to take on a private sector role and the pay was roughly equal but the pension and holiday was better in the PRIVATE sector. 10 years later I spoke to an old colleague and it was clear that my old job had fallen behind my new one by about 25%, however, they were no longer comparable jobs as I was expected to take on more responsibility in the private sector which I found more enjoyable anyway. Looking at my old public sector employer, it is rather middle heavy and lacks career advancement. I think they deserve a pay rise but could do with a change in how they do things. I am not sure what experience other people have in the private sector but I have a far better pension, more generous holiday entitlement and sick pay beyond 6 months if I need it. The golden handshake is far more generous than public sector too. I suppose there is private sector and private sector. My private sector employers have only been FTSE100 companies which is where most private sector jobs are in any case

    Report this comment

    JohnnyH

    Wednesday, April 22, 2015

  • There haven`t been pay cuts but pay freezes, which has been more harsher across the private sector. The public sector have always done well in the pay stakes with many employees not only getting annual pay rises but pay increments as well. Conditions of service, including being able to be on sick leave on full pay for 6 months are things private sector employees could only dream of. The public sector did very well out of the Labour government with the creation of many fairly useless and unnecessary jobs, particularly in the Labour heartlands. Another day of election bribes - hey ho only two more weeks to go. Thank goodness for that.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Wednesday, April 22, 2015

  • The public sector don't know what work is. Especially teachers. Apart from the "Gold plated pension" (LARSON, you're in denial), full sick pay (whats that?) and early retirement option, isn't 12 or so weeks fully paid holiday a year not generous? I get about a third of that and work much longer hours than any teacher. The public sector are lazy and delusional. In the real world you have to make your employer a profit or they get rid of you. They need to either stop feeling sorry for themselves OR GET A PROPER JOB.

    Report this comment

    Scania

    Wednesday, April 22, 2015

  • LARSON -- Your comment is a little disingenuous. Your "average" pension takes into account all part time workers and those who have only worked in the public sector for part of their working life. If you take the average wage paid to a full time public sector worker which is £28,800, then if the person works for 35 years (which means a retirement age of 55) the pension payable would be £13,500, plus a lump sum of £30,000. If that person worked until 65 they would still receive the £30000 lump sum and the pension would rise to nearly £18,000. That seems pretty generous to me.

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    theanchovy

    Wednesday, April 22, 2015

  • The Tories have pledged some funny money from their magic money tree for the NHS.There can be no doubt the main source of "efficiency savings" in the Tory plans to find this money is set to come from the unsocial hours payments,compensation for the disruption to family life for providing a 24 hr service 7 days a week.This will hit nursing staff and other groups and amounts to a wage cut of up to 20% for some staff.It is imperative NHS staff share these Tory plans so that they can vote wisely.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Wednesday, April 22, 2015

  • Ah....this will be the cue then for the usual rubbish about " gold plated public sector pensions " , despite the average such pension being below £5000 a year.

    Report this comment

    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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