Britain’s public sector workers would get a huge pay boost under a Labour government, with a new manifesto pledge restore wages to those last seen a decade ago.
In one of the few surprises held back for the launch, the policy blueprint promises an immediate five per cent salary rise for NHS staff, teachers, armed forces and others.
Staff will then get year-on-year above-inflation pay hikes to “restore public sector pay to at least pre-financial crisis levels (in real terms)” that they enjoyed prior to 2008.
“Our most valuable assets are the dedicated people who work in our public services, but under this government their pay has been cut in real terms,” the manifesto states.
The new pledge, which is a minimum and would be topped up by further sectoral pay bargaining, would “reward and retain the people who do so much for us all”.
Aides said that the 5% rise was aimed at offering relief to millions of workers hit by the 1% public sector pay cap introduced by George Osborne and David Cameron under the Tory-Lib Dem coalition.
The manifesto also promises big increases in numbers of staff in the public sector, with 24,000 extra nurses and 5,000 extra staff working for the Department of Work and Pensions.
Labour’s programme for government vows to make public services more “accountable” by ending the current legal presumption that favours ‘outsourcing’ to private firms. It promises to “stop the public getting ripped off by taking back all PFI [private sector finance initiative] contracts over time”.
Dame Donna Kinnair, general Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Nursing staff will welcome the pledge to increase pay. NHS staff should be fairly rewarded for their commitment and professionalism. Increased pay would also help health and care services to recruit and retain the professionals they desperately need.”
What the pay rises would mean in practice
From April next year, public sector workers would get an average of an extra £1,643 in their pay packets over the year.
A newly-qualified teacher would get a pay rise of £1,219.
A newly-qualified nurse would get £1,211.
A police constable £1,958.
A junior doctor £1,384
A mid-level firefighter £1,557
An army sergeant £1,758.
Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), said: “We welcome the commitment to pay public servants properly after nearly a decade of a punishing Tory pay cap which has left many PCS members struggling on low pay and claiming benefits.”
Nuffield Trust Chief Executive Nigel Edwards said: “Increasing NHS funding and paying public sector staff more will mean that the health service can breathe a sigh of relief after a decade of austerity.
“We were very pleased to see the party has picked up many of the measures we recommended with other think tanks to help fix the NHS staffing crisis, including money to support nursing students and retrain staff during their career.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.