THE PCS union has called for workers’ pay to reflect the cost of living in rallies across the country.
Marking a historic turnout on Wednesday (Feb 1), 100,000 PCS union members joined picket lines across the country calling on the UK governments to provide a ‘living wage’ for its members ‘struggling’ to put food on the table.
Scottish civil servants make up 10% of the UK-wide civil service and, under devolution, this means pay disputes in the devolved departments are the responsibility of the Scottish Government.
The Government’s current offer to civil servants earning under £25,000 is a £775 uplift, with those earning over £40,000 receiving £500.
According to John Jamieson, PCS (Scottish branch) executive committee chair, the Scottish Government promised a ‘pay restoration’ to pre-austerity levels for civil servants. But he claimed, with increased inflation and cost of living, pay restoration has been “obliterated.”
He said: “Since 2008 our members have lost 17-20% in comparison to the cost of living.
“A 2% pay rise has been offered to civil servants, many of whom are on minimum wage, the lowest offer for any part of the public sector this year. Twenty-five thousand workers for the department of work and pensions -the very place that administers benefits- are being moved to the minimum wage in April.”
Mr Jamieson added: “Forty thousand of our members are using foodbanks, 47,000 are on universal credits and 25,000 DWP workers earning below ‘minimum wage’.
“Low-paid people are using credit cards to buy food and pay their bills, accumulating into a bubble which will lead to the public purse having to bail out people in poverty and the banks.
“Over a number of years, there has been a transfer of wealth going from the poorest to the richest, so the wealth inequality has to be addressed to stimulate the economy.”
One PCS member, who asked not to be named, said: “In April the minimum wage increases, this means my pay offer is actually a 1.13% increase, not a 5%.
“I am reliant on universal credits to pay my rent and still struggle to make ends meet. I am having to rely on family to help cover my monthly shortfalls.”
The Scottish Government was approached about the pay disputes, with a spokesperson stating: “Ministers continue to work with trade unions to ensure that fair and progressive pay offers are made to public sector workers across Scotland, despite the constraints of the Scottish Government’s fixed budget.”
They added that the Government is “fully committed to strengthening the voice of Scotland’s workers and protecting their rights, including the right to take industrial action.”