Unions condemn MPs' 4.7% pay rise

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The Independent Online
THE POTENTIAL threat to government pay policy posed by the MPs' rise of nearly 5 per cent was emphasised yesterday by a chorus of criticism from union leaders.

The Royal College of Nursing warned that it would seek a significant rise in the light of the settlement - the Government has approved 4.7 per cent for MPs from 1 January, consisting of a delayed 2.7 per cent already approved and 2 per cent secured by Civil Service grades, to which MPs are linked.

Christopher Cordwell, of the RCN, said yesterday on BBC Radio 4's World This Weekend yesterday that the nurses had 'no problem with MPs being properly rewarded'. But he added: 'Against such a background, what we don't expect is the Government to repeat the pressure it exerted on the review body last year to the effect that nurses should receive only 'an exceptionally modest increase'.

'Nurses have clearly delivered more productivity by measures the Government have themselves set down over the last few years and we expect that to be noted by the review body when they make their recommendations to John Major.'

Jimmy Knapp, the RMT general secretary, whose signalmen are preparing for another 48-hour strike over pay from noon today, accused the Government of hypocrisy, while Alan Jinkinson, general secretary of Unison, Britain's biggest union, condemned its 'scandalous double standards', given the Treasury's insistence that pay should be linked to productivity.

John Edmonds, the GMB general secretary, protested on the BBC Today programme that MPs were getting an increase about double the inflation rate when public service, local government and health service workers were being offered less than the rate of inflation.

However, John Townend, the Tory backbench finance committee chairman, said that MPs had recently had a pay freeze. 'By deferring the increase all MPs have lost that money,' he said.

'MPs' salaries are not particularly high,' he said. 'They are about half the level of some of the GPs in my constituency (Bridlington in Humberside), about the level of police superintendents and headmasters of large schools. They are not ridiculously high.'