The leader of the TUC today delivered a blunt message to the Government on public sector wages, saying decent rises for millions of workers could be afforded.
General secretary Brendan Barber said it was not fair that families on low incomes were living in fear of a cold winter, while energy firms posted huge profits.
In his speech to the opening session of the TUC Congress in Brighton, Mr Barber said: "You cannot create world class services with a workforce battered and bruised by change, sapped of morale by 1,000 reorganisations, and crippled by pay awards that do not begin to reflect the true cost of living.
"Don't let anyone tell us that the Government can't afford fair pay for public servants. If it can spend billions on consultants, billions on tax breaks for UK plc, then surely it can find the money to give Britain's teachers, prison officers, civil servants and local government workers the fair pay they deserve."
Mr Barber told delegates it was not fair that workers were facing a fall in their living standards while top bosses saw their pay packets go up by 20 per cent or even 30 per cent.
Millions of households were already in recession because of rising food and fuel prices, the TUC leader warned.
Mr Barber also pressed ministers to impose a windfall tax on energy firms, saying they were making excessive profits.Reuse content