The British government has extended pay raise offers ranging from 5 per cent to 7 per cent to millions of public sector workers, including teachers, police officers, and junior doctors. The objective is to resolve a series of strikes, notably the five-day walkout by doctors in the publicly funded National Health Service (NHS).
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed that the government has accepted recommendations from pay review bodies, resulting in a proposed 7 per cent increase for police and prison officers, 6.5% for teachers, and 6 per cent for junior doctors who participated in the strike.
Sunak emphasised that these offers, which do not rely on additional borrowing or increased taxes, are considered final, leaving no room for further pay negotiations.
Following the announcement, education unions expressed their intention to present the pay award offer to their members and recommended acceptance, leading to the potential cessation of strikes. However, the response from other unions remains uncertain as they face, what can be seen as, an ultimatum.
Junior doctors instigated a five-day walkout following the rejection of their request for a 35 per cent salary raise. The British Medical Association, the doctors’ union, argued that such a substantial pay rise is necessary to restore junior doctors’ wages to 2008 levels, accounting for inflation. The workload of around 75,000 junior doctors in England has intensified due to record-high patient waiting lists following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prime Minister Sunak disclosed that he would be urging government departments to reprioritise their focus on pay, when questioned about the funding for other pay awards. Additionally, he announced plans to generate over £1 billion by significantly increasing charges for migrants applying for visas and the NHS access levy.
Nearly half of the public sector workforce in the UK falls under the purview of pay review bodies, including police officers, prison officers, armed forces personnel, doctors, dentists, and teachers. These review bodies consist of economists and human resources experts with experience in both the public and private sectors, appointed by the relevant government department.