Rodney Bickerstaffe, general secretary of the million-strong Unison, warned ministers they would lose the goodwill of the people who put them into power if they go ahead with the proposed clampdown.
A clutch of pay awards drawn up by salary review bodies for 1.3 million nurses, teachers, doctors and others is due for approval by Chancellor Gordon Brown over the next few weeks.
Westminster sources say that rises averaging 4 per cent are being recommended, but the government will allow only 2.5 per cent to be paid in April, with the remainder being paid at the end of the year. The awards are a benchmark for the public sector, where some five million workers are waiting to see how the Treasury's pay curbs will bite.
Mr Bickerstaffe urged the government to make a statement pledging support for the review bodies' findings. "These are the results of many months of hard work. They are not our claims. They are independent awards. If the government reduces them, people will say: what's the point? Morale will just plummet."Reuse content