July 24, 2018 / 8:24 AM / a month ago

UK public sector workers get biggest pay rise in years

LONDON (Reuters) - Around one million public-sector workers in Britain will receive their biggest pay rise in years, the government said on Tuesday, as it tries to regain momentum after a rocky few weeks of Brexit drama.

FILE PHOTO: Soldiers run through St James's park in London, Britain, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall

Teachers will receive pay increases of 3.5 percent, backdated to April, while members of the armed forces will be given rises of 2 percent with a 0.9 percent bonus for the current financial year.

Police will get a 2 percent pay rise, while junior doctors will receive an increase of at least 2 percent, the government said in a statement.

The Times newspaper reported that Prime Minister Theresa May and Chancellor Philip Hammond had “rushed through” the deal ahead of parliament’s mid-year recess, following a difficult couple of months for the government.

Some of May’s top ministers have resigned over her approach to Britain’s divorce with the European Union, and she has acceded to the demands of hardline Brexit campaigners in a series of votes in parliament that have exposed the fragility of her administration.

The pay rises follow one announced in March for a separate group of more than a million nurses and hospital staff, who will receive at least 6.5 percent extra over the next three years.

The finance ministry said the latest pay rises would be financed out of government ministries’ budgets.

“The government’s offer fails to compensate workers for the huge losses in income they have faced under the Tories’ brutal pay restraint policy,” said Peter Dowd, a spokesman for the opposition Labour Party.

Public sector pay was frozen for all but the lowest earners in 2010 and increases were limited to of 1 percent a year from 2013. May has been under increasing pressure from ministers and MPs to raise pay for public sector workers since her party lost its majority in parliament in elections in June 2017.

The breakdown of the latest pay increases will also be of interest to the Bank of England, which is keeping a close on wages as it weighs up whether to raise interests next week.

Reporting by Andy Bruce and Elizabeth Piper, editing by Alistair Smout

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