Striking unions have been accused of peddling ‘nonsense’ pay-cut figures to pressure ministers into massive pay-outs.
MPs say unions representing millions of public sector staff are inflating claims about the real-terms pay cuts faced by their members.
This is because unions compare pay to the retail price index measure of inflation, which the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies think-tank has said ‘is known to be upwardly biased’.
The fall in pay is, in some cases, less than half the figure claimed, a series of independent analyses showed. It comes as last-ditch talks between teachers’ unions and ministers are due to be held today in an effort to prevent nationwide disruption.
Striking unions have been accused of peddling ‘nonsense’ pay-cut figures to pressure ministers into huge pay-outs
MPs claim unions representing are inflating claims about the real-terms pay cuts faced by their members
Do numbers stack up?
TEACHERS: The NEU said pay has fallen 23 per cent in real terms since 2010. BUT… The Institute for Fiscal Studies found the average real-terms pay cut was 11 per cent.
NURSES: The Royal College of Nursing said average pay has fallen 8 per cent in real terms since 2010. BUT… The Nuffield Trust said incomes fell by 5.9 per cent in real terms between 2010/11 and 2020/21, using the consumer prices index (CPI).
AMBULANCE STAFF: The GMB said in 2021 that real pay for NHS staff had fallen by 17 per cent since 2010. BUT… The Nuffield Trust found ambulance workers’ pay, including overtime, has risen in line with inflation.
JUNIOR DOCTORS: The BMA said pay has been cut by 26.1 per cent since 2008/09. BUT… The Nuffield Trust put the figure at 14.5 per cent since 2010/11.
The National Education Union (NEU) was one of the unions accused of skewing the data towards senior pay grades that had suffered the greatest cuts.
Tory MPs dismissed union claims of real-terms pay cuts as ‘rubbish’, saying it was ‘nonsense’ that public sector workers are ‘on their own’ in a global cost of living crisis.
A Mail audit has put the unions’ claims to the test. The analysis showed while striking workers have suffered real-terms falls in pay, the hit to living standards in the decade before inflation rocketed may not be as severe as claimed.
Unions claimed that university staff have suffered real-terms pay cuts of almost a fifth since 2009. But based on the consumer prices index measure of inflation, the figure would be around half this.
Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘It’s all rubbish. The idea that public sector workers in the UK are on their own is nonsense.’ Doug McWilliams, of the Centre for Economic and Business Research consultancy, said: ‘Recently, pay hits in the public sector have got bigger, but it’s important for them not to exaggerate their claims as it ruins their validity, and affects their credibility.’
But Kevin Courtney, of the NEU, said: ‘The central argument doesn’t change on any measure you care to use: teachers have had double-digit, deep and sustained real-terms pay cuts since 2010.’
Cleaners could respond to 999 calls if firefighters go on strike.
Fire services have been training office staff as back-up, The Sunday Telegraph reported.
People protesting in front of the London Ambulance Service during a strike by ambulance workers