Public sector pay freeze an 'insult', Wakefield Council leader Denise Jeffery says

The leader of Wakefield's Labour-run council has branded the pay freeze for public sector workers an "insult".

Thursday, 17th December 2020, 12:30 pm
Teachers are among those who will be hit by a pay freeze next year.

The freeze, announced by Rishi Sunak in the Autumn statement last month, will affect more than 30,000 public service workers in the Wakefield district, who will not receive a pay increase next year.

NHS workers will be exempt from the freeze.

The local Conservatives claimed however that it was "not the right time" to offer public pay increases because of mass unemployment in the private sector.

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Council leader Denise Jeffery said the decision "beggars belief".

Speaking at the last full meeting of Wakefield Council before Christmas, Labour group Denise Jeffery said she was "disappointed" with the announcement.

She added: "This really is an insult to our carers, our emergency workers, police officers and teachers - the very people who've kept our community moving and have cared for our loved ones during this pandemic.

"They've worked long hours, put themselves at risk and sacrificed time with their families to serve communities.

"It beggars belief that this government has wasted and mismanaged billions of pounds since the start of the crisis - handing out contracts without competition - yet they won't give key workers the pay rise they deserve."

Councillor Nadeem Ahmed suggested it was "not the right time" to offer public sector pay increases across the board.

But in response, the leader of the Conservative opposition, Nadeem Ahmed said: "We have to remember we don't even know how many jobs are going to survive moving forward.

"How many people will never come off furlough? We don't know those numbers yet. How many people's jobs will be replaced by automation because those jobs won't exist anymore?

"Is it the right time to be asking for public sector wage increases, or should we be pushing for the millions of people who've lost incomes in the hospitality sector?

"Let's not call for one sector to be supported at the expense of other people.

"If we're asking for support, we need to do it for people across the board who are struggling, and who'll continue to struggle over the next few years."

Coun Jeffery later said that she was not asking for a pay increase to come at the expense of private sector workers, adding: "The point I'm making is the government have dished out lots of contracts to their so-called mates, and they're not looking after the people who need looking after."

Local Democracy Reporting Service