UNISON boss 'cannot rule out strike action' amid pay freeze plans

22 November 2020, 12:02

By Seán Hickey

The assistant head of the UK's largest union has warned that strike action against public sector pay freezes cannot be ruled out before the Chancellor's spending review.

Assistant General Secretary of UNISON Christina McAnea spoke to Tom Swarbrick following Chancellor Rishi Sunak's suggestion that public sector pay could be frozen in the spending review.

Ms McAnea opposed the pay freeze, telling Tom: "This is about not only the NHS, it is about people in care homes, people who provide care services. Care workers as an example have died at twice the rate they should have, taking everything else into account in the general population.

People may not be aware or perhaps have forgotten that public sector workers have basically had 10 years of pay freezes and pay caps."

Tom noted that the head of the TUC was not ruling out strike action, and he asked Ms McAnea whether she would. "No of course I couldn’t rule it out," she said.

"We will be consulting with the TUC and with our colleagues in other unions to see if there is some sort of plan we can put in place to resist this."

"We are a trade union of course we don’t rule out strike action, it is one of the few things we have got that our members can actually do," confirmed Ms McAnea.

She added that union members will be consulted at a later date depending on what is announced in the spending review.

"How is this going to go down in terms of morale in the public sector?" Tom wondered. The UNISON assistant General Secretary insisted that public sector workers will be crushed by a pay freeze.

"This is the same government who will leak this to the media, will presumably make an announcement next Wednesday, with no reference to the trade unions, with no reference to workforce or the representatives of the workforce who have actually been working with them to get the country through this pandemic, it is outrageous.”