High workloads pushing public sector key workers to the brink

New TUC polling has revealed that one in five key workers in the public sector are ‘actively considering’ quitting and changing profession.

The polling reveals serious disillusionment among key workers in the public sector – with feeling undervalued, low pay and an excessive workload the most common reasons cited by workers for wanting to quit.

This year, the government awarded a three per cent pay rise to NHS staff and imposed a pay freeze (in real terms a pay cut) on most other public sector staff. TUC says that 27 per cent of public sector key workers say that government policy on public sector pay has made them more likely to quit, rising to 43 per cent among those actively considering quitting.

The TUC says a pay rise for public sector key workers is ‘long overdue’, as it publishes new analysis which shows how public sector pay has fallen in real terms across the board since 2010. In local government, care worker pay is down £1,490 while refuse collector pay is down £1,519.

The TUC is calling on the government to urgently prioritise key worker pay and public services funding in the forthcoming spending review.

The union body says ministers must: end the freeze on public service workers’ pay and give all public service workers a decent pay rise; increase investment in our public services so schools, hospitals, councils and the wider civil service can deliver the services communities need; and fund the public sector so that all outsourced workers are paid at least the real Living Wage and get parity with directly employed staff.

Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary, said: “Everyone deserves fair pay and dignity at work. But too many key workers in the public sector are at breaking point because of a toxic mix of low pay, excessive workloads and a serious lack of recognition. These are the nurses, care workers, and teachers that helped keep the country going through the pandemic.

“After years of our key workers being underpaid and our public services underfunded, this pandemic has to be a turning point. The Prime Minister’s promise of a high wage economy is nothing short of farcical while his government continues to hold down public sector pay.

“Enough is enough. Ministers must use the autumn spending review to end the public sector pay freeze and give all public sector workers a pay rise. And they must properly fund our public services too.”

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