Budget: Scottish Government has the opportunity to make a real difference for public workers in Scotland

January 26th 2021

Budget: Scottish Government has the opportunity to make a real difference for public workers in Scotland

January 26th 2021

Ahead of the Scottish Budget later this week, STUC General Secretary Rozanne Foyer has laid down a challenge to the Scottish Government to use its real terms budget increase to meet union pay claims for public service workers. Better public sector pay would have a positive impact on economic recovery and some spill-over benefit for low paid private sector workers.

The Government directly sets pay policy for government employees, but its Pay Policy and the level of funding provided for other public services has a strong effect on pay for NHS workers, council workers, teachers and firefighters.

• There is a near 4% real terms increase in the Scottish Budget providing clear opportunity to meet union claims for fairer pay.

• Unions’ pay claims in key sectors such as health and local government are slanted towards uplifts for low paid workers with £2000 minimum being claimed in heath and local government.

• A real terms increase would provide a boost for low paid women workers. Women are twice as likely to be key workers than men. • The First Minister has signalled support for moving towards a four-day week for some public service workers which should come with no loss of pay.

• Many key workers are angry that they were overlooked when the £500 bonus for certain key worker was announced.

STUC General Secretary Rozanne Foyer said:

“Thursday’s budget gives the Scottish Government the chance to show that it is truly on the side of Scotland’s key workers. We need a pay policy that signals a truly different path from the one chosen by Rishi Sunak and which begins to address longer term structural pay inequalities. This means using the uplift in the Scottish budget to increase funding for services and end the underfunding of local government.

“Half of Scotland’s key workers are employed in the public sector, and many key workers in the private sector depend on public sector funding or support. With employment law reserved, the Budget is the key area in which the Scottish Government can take action to ensure key workers are properly valued. It represents a litmus test for the Scottish Government’s commitment to Fair Work.

“Key workers have kept society running during the pandemic. Yet while we hail them as heroes, they are not paid like heroes. Key workers are paid 8% less on average than other workers. A third are paid less than £10 an hour.”

NotesIncreasing key worker pay would have a range of positive benefits.

• Reduce the gender pay gap. Women are twice as likely to be key workers than men.

• Reduce in-work and child poverty. As well as being relatively low earners, many keyworkers work part-time and live in single-parent households – risk factors associated with both in-work poverty and child poverty.

• Support inclusive growth. Low-earners spend more in the local economy than high-earners and a high proportion of key workers live in Scotland’s more rural, remote areas and deprived areas.

• Raise revenue. An estimated 40% of the cost of a public sector pay increase would be recouped in tax revenue.

• Support family resilience. 46% of key workers with children have a partner who is in non-key work.

• Support equality. Black and minority ethnic (BME) employees are more likely than white employees to be key workers.

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