Unions ‘do worry’ that a Labour government under Starmer will fail on public sector pay rises

The president of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) Matt Wrack has admitted that he is concerned that Labour may not increase public sector pay by enough

David Maddox
Political editor
Wednesday 05 June 2024 19:40 BST
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Key moments from first Sunak-Starmer debate

The current leader of the trade union movement has warned Sir Keir Starmer that any failure to reverse “14 years of attacks on public sector pay” by a Labour government will not be accepted.

Matt Wrack, the president of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), issued the warning amid concerns over the Labour leadership language on pay settlements.

In a recent interview with The Independent, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting made it clear that he would not give striking doctors the 35 per cent pay rise they have demanded. Sir Keir then was applauded on the televised leaders debate last night for saying the same.

Asked if he was concerned about the language on pay by the Labour leadership, Mr Wrack said: “Yes, I think that is an issue that needs addressing.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer during the ITV General Election debate (Jonathan Hordle/ITV)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer during the ITV General Election debate (Jonathan Hordle/ITV) (PA Media)

He talked about how collective bargaining had allowed people in the fire service to get an abovabove-inflation rise as opposed to the pay review bodies linked to the government.

He went on: “I think 14 years pay stagnated since 2008, or particularly for those 14 years it has been under attack, particularly in the public sector.

“I think Labour will have to address that certainly, I don’t think there will be a mood to accept a year after year of below inflation pay rises, there’s got to be some programme to restore people’s living standards, particularly in the aftermath of the cost of living crisis.

“So I think the unions whether they’re affiliated to Labour or not will be seeking to do that. That’s what our job is to improve the living standards and rights of our members. And I think we will be pursuing that very forcefully, whoever’s in government after July.”

Matt Wrack, new TUC president
Matt Wrack, new TUC president (Clive Gee/PA)

Mr Wrack reminded Sir Keir and the Labour leadership that the party “was created by the unions for working people and needs to be the party of working people”.

He has also warned against any watering down on workers rights and insisted that Labour must end the ability of companies to hire and fire. The tactic was recently used by P&O Ferries.

Mr Wrack admited unions “do worry” about Labour moving properly on the issue.

He said: “The devil will be in the detail of the legislation brought forward but it is something that Labour do need to move on.”

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