By Marcus Leach

Unite have reacted to the news that, for the first time since records began in the 1960s, public sector pay settlements were running at zero for the opening quarter of 2011.

Unite described the freeze in public sector pay as 'unprecedented'.

In a report from IDS (Income Data Services) the three months to the end of April has seen private sector pay deals rise to three per cent, but public sector pay remains frozen.

"This is an unprecedented attack on millions of workers' living standards. It's grossly unfair - the public servants that our families rely on are having to endure real hardship because of the cavalier attitude of the Tory-led government and many councils across the country," Unite assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmail, said.

"The reality is that with inflation over five per cent, millions of public sector workers are getting a pay cut and some employers like Southampton city council are going further by imposing take it or leave it new terms and conditions.

"To make matters worse the £250 government promised would be paid to the lowest earners is being refused to the largest concentration of low paid public sector workers, the majority being women, employed by councils across the country."

Local authorities are refusing to comply with the government's commitment to pay the lowest earners £250 because the government has no legal powers to force the local authorities to pay-up, making a sham of the original commitment.