Union bosses have warned about the prospect of strike action among teachers and NHS staff if the government does not boost pay amid soaring inflation.
It comes as Britain braces for disruption on the railways as staff stage mass walkouts on National Rail and Tube lines next week.
Thousands of public sector workers took to Parliament Square on Saturday to call for more support during the cost-of-living crisis.
Among those were teachers, whose union bosses are calling for a pay uplift.
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, toldThe Observer it planned to ballot members unless it received a pay offer much closer to inflation by Wednesday.
Unless the government significantly increased what was floated by the education secretary earlier this year, members would be balloted to gauge reactions and a second ballot could be held on strikes, he said.
“If there is no significant improvement on 3 per cent – which will leave an 8 per cent gap with inflation this year alone – we cannot avoid a ballot,” he told the newspaper.
“The mood among teachers has changed. Last year the issue was mainly workload. This year it is workload and pay.”
He added: “Teachers are doing calculations to see what their hourly pay works out at. Pay is already down 20% on 2010. The strains are showing. One in eight of new graduate teachers are leaving in their first year.”
Dr Patrick Roach, the general secretary of the NASUWT union, whose members were at Saturday’s protest, has echoed these concerns.
“The future of education is under threat: highly qualified education professionals are expected to work more for less pay and endure a cost of living crisis that continues to break records and push households into financial hardship,” he said.
“Teachers are seriously considering how much longer they can remain in the profession without a pay uplift and an urgent rebalancing of workload.”
Unison, the country’s biggest union which counts NHS staff among its members, has also reportedly warned the government there could be industrial action in hospitals without a pay deal close to inflation.
“The government has a simple choice,” Christina McAnea, its general secretary, is reported as saying by The Observer.
“Either it makes a sensible pay award, investing in staff and services and reducing delays for patients. Or it risks a potential dispute, growing workforce shortages and increased suffering for the sick.”
The Department for Education and the Department of Health and Social Care have been approached for comment.
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