Belfast Telegraph

Union targeting Tory MPs in marginal seats over public sector pay stance

Tory MPs in marginal seats are being targeted by a union campaign to lift the controversial cap on public sector pay.

Members of Unison in 27 constituencies with small Conservative majorities are being urged to press their MP to support ending the 1% limit.

The move comes amid speculation that the Government is about to announce a bigger wage rise for the police.

Labour will lead a debate on public sector pay in the Commons on Wednesday.

Union leaders attending the TUC Congress in Brighton said all public sector workers deserved a decent wage rise as they stepped up campaigns with warnings of co-ordinated industrial action.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said: "All public service workers have suffered from the austerity agenda.

"It is not just an issue for the police."

It would be "disastrous" for public services if some groups of workers were given rises at the expense of others, he said.

Unison pointed out it has 2,000 members in Southampton where Conservative MP Royston Smith has a 31 majority, and 2,600 members in the Pembrokeshire seat of Stephen Crabb, who won by 314 votes.

Hundreds of Unison members have contacted their MP explaining how tough life has become under the pay cap.

Theatre sister Jo O'Brien from Stockport, who treated victims of the Manchester Arena bombing, said the pay cap made her feel "under-valued".

She told a news conference in Brighton: "Nurses are working extra shifts just to pay the bills."

Care worker Sian Stockham from west Wales, who has two jobs, said a 1% pay rise gave her an extra 8p an hour.

London ambulance worker Rob Sydney, who attended the Westminster and London Bridge terrorist attacks, said he was earning £50 a month less than five years ago because of rising bills.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell told a fringe meeting that Labour would support strikes over the pay cap, while Unite leader Len McCluskey revealed that the union's strike fund had grown to £36 million.

The TUC said the "ice was beginning to crack " because of speculation that the pay cap will be lifted for police and prison officers.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Police and prison officers are long overdue a pay rise, but so too are the nurses, firefighters and all public servants working across the country.

"This is not a popularity contest.

"Ministers must not cherry-pick some workers for a pay rise, while leaving others in the cold.

"Public sector workers' pay has fallen for seven long years. They have all earned a pay rise.

"We need to hear more about how this will be funded.

"The costs for this pay rise must not fall upon our already-stretched public services."

Mr Prentis said: "If the pay cap is to be lifted, it must go for everyone.

"All public servants no matter where they live or work, need a proper pay rise now. No one part of the public sector is any more deserving than the rest."

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