Britain’s largest teaching unions have joined forces with the nation’s other public sector unions in calling for a pay rise for their members ahead of the chancellor's Spending Review statement tomorrow.
The unions have written a joint letter in response to reports that chancellor Rishi Sunak is preparing to impose a pay cap on 5 million public sector workers as he seeks to rebuild the public finances in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic.
The letter points out that a pay rise is “a matter of justice” for public sector key workers who have pulled the country through the crisis and who have suffered "a decade of lost pay".
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It has been signed by the general secretaries of the NEU and the NASUWT teaching unions, as well as the NAHT and Unison, which represents school support staff, including teaching assistants, caretakers, cleaners and catering assistants.
NASUWT general secretary Patrick Roach said freezing pay would mean losing experienced teachers from the profession.
He said: “Failing to invest in teachers is failing to invest in children’s futures.
“As children and young people try to recover from the impact of the pandemic, they need more than ever the expertise of experienced and qualified teachers in the classroom.
“Freezing teachers’ pay means risking the loss of that expertise. Any move to freeze the pay of teachers is out of step with public opinion and is a slap in the face to the teaching profession.”
In tomorrow’s Spending Review, Mr Sunak is expected to outline details of the money that departments, including the NHS, education and police, will receive over the next year.
Last week, the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) warned that without action to curb pay, the government will face a sharply rising public sector wage at a time of increased borrowing owing to the pandemic – but that the government could save up to £23 billion if he were to impose a three-year public sector pay freeze.
But Jon Richards, head of education at Unison, said: “People forget that schools never closed and school staff have been looking after the children of key workers and vulnerable pupils throughout the pandemic.
“Since returning in the autumn staff have faced rising infection rates in schools, with a government seemingly indifferent to their worries and the risks they face.”
The letter, organised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), highlights new analysis which shows that increasing public sector pay by 2 per cent would boost GDP by between £1.1 and £2.1 billion, with an increased tax take of between £370 million and £700 million.
It states that increasing public sector by 5 per cent would deliver a boost to GDP of between £2.4 billion and £4.6 billion, with an increased tax take of between £800 million and £1.54 billion.