In remarks to the media today about a possible public sector pay cap, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: 

“This is the very last thing the economy needs as it tries to recover. Key workers have kept this country on its feet throughout the pandemic.

“This isn’t about fairness at all. This is a con job. The Government will argue this is about holding down public sector pay because private sector pay has gone down, but it makes no sense economically. Public sector workers spend their pay rises in private sector retail and private sector hospitality.

“This is a predictable attempt at divide and rule in the middle of a pandemic. Police officers, prison officers, school support staff, teachers, head teachers, DWP workers, hospital ancillary staff, have all put their lives on the line this year and they all deserve a pay rise. So should the delivery drivers for big supermarkets. We are supposed to be all in this together as working people.

“Not so long ago the Government was so worried about teacher recruitment that they promised starting salaries would increase. But a pay freeze means recruitment problems will be back with a vengeance after the pandemic.

“If Rishi Sunak does end up saying to school staff that their pay will be held down, then it is entirely the wrong moment to say it. This is not levelling up, but levelling down.”