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Union leaders warn teachers and nurses poised to quit over delayed pay rise | Industrial action


Union leaders have warned newly appointed cabinet ministers that many teachers and nurses will leave the profession in the coming weeks as public sector pay deals are further delayed by government chaos.

Thursday’s decision by Boris Johnson to to resign as Prime Minister – and a series of changes in his cabinet – have raised fears among public sector workers that a long-overdue pay raise will be delayed until the fall.

Even before how the collapse of the Johnson government Unions already clashed with him last week over the extent of the pay rise – and warned of possible strikes if their demands were not met.

Teachers, NHS workers and other public sector representatives are demanding at least an increase in the rate of inflation – currently 9.1% – while ministers insisted the pay cap was necessary because the Treasury needed to rein in spending and contain inflation.

Now, however, there are concerns that the already delayed pay process, including consultation with unions, will be further delayed, meaning many workers will quit in frustration. The impasse over pay – and the threat of strikes – will be among the most pressing issues facing the government as the Conservative Party prepares to choose a new leader and prime minister.

On Saturday, the country’s largest trade union, Unison, said he had written to the new health secretary, Stephen Barclay, demanding to see the yet-to-be-published recommendations of the NHS pay review body. He also repeated warnings of possible mass action if progress is not made quickly.

Unison’s head of health, Sarah Gorton, said: “The vacuum of government leadership is no excuse for further delaying the introduction NHS pay correctly. The government is already months behind schedule. Rising costs are taking a terrible toll on staff and helping them should be high on the list of priorities for the new Secretary of State, not an afterthought.’

In her letter to Barclays, Gorton added: “Ambitious targets to reduce waiting times and close the backlog at the polls will not be achieved without urgent action on pay from you to ensure people do not leave the health service.

“NHS workers cannot afford to wait for the leadership issues in your party to be resolved before announcing your paid position. I will be talking to other unions about coordinating our plans, including options for an advisory vote on non-action.

“Payment is critical to ensuring that the NHS is properly staffed and able to provide patients with the care they need. The appointment of the appropriate pay will show that ministers are serious about protecting public health and the millions of people who depend on it.’

Patrick Roach, general secretary of the National Association of School Teachers’ Union of Women Teachers, has also written to the new Education Secretary, James Cleverley, asking him to publish the review body’s recommendations for teachers.

Roach said that an agreement must be reached as soon as possible so that teachers do not leave the profession before the start of the new school year. “It is important that the process does not end up in empty grass. We need to ensure full consultation and that teachers get what they deserve.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The Government may be in chaos, but ministers must not forget cost of living crisis face the workers. Britain needs a pay rise now.’

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