Union chiefs threaten to escalate strike action if ministers block big pay rises to curb inflation

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UNION chiefs have threatened to escalate strike action if ministers block big pay rises to try to curb inflation.

Millions of public sector workers will hear in the next few weeks what rises their pay review bodies say they should get this year.

Union chiefs are threatening to ramp up strike action unless big pay rises are agreed

But PM Rishi Sunak is considering overruling the bodies if they recommend six per cent or more.

Downing Street fears big salary increases will fuel already sky-high inflation.

Teachers are thought to have been recommended to get a 6.5 per cent boost.

And hundreds of thousands of teachers are already being balloted to go on strike.

Kevin Courtney, head of the National Education Union, said in a video to members: “Whichever way inflation is going, they say we shouldn’t get a pay rise.

“But look at the teacher retention difficulties.

“Look at the fact that nine per cent of teachers left the job last year — 90 per cent of them pre-retirement.

“This is a crisis. Teachers deserve a pay rise. Support our strikes, vote in the ballot.

“Make sure we are putting all the pressure we can on this government.”

Jon Richards, from Unison, said: “Pay is key to turning around the staffing emergency.

“Reckless talk like this will prompt even more essential workers to quit.”

But Treasury sources said the inflation beast must be tamed. They added: “Strike action is a concern but we have to balance that with a fair and affordable offer that doesn’t embed inflation.”

The pay review body recommendations will be made public before MPs pack up for summer on July 20.

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