Workers in the public sector face real pay falls of thousands of pounds by 2020, according to TUC analysis.
Midwives, teachers and social workers will see real pay losses of over £3,000, while nurses, firefighters and border guards face losing more than £2,500.
Ambulance drivers, who already earn significantly below the average UK wage, are set to miss out on over £1,800.
The TUC says falls in real pay are caused by government restrictions on public pay, which limit salary increases to 1% a year. This stops wages from keeping up with rising living costs.
Over 5.4 million people work in the public sector – nearly one in five workers in the UK.
Frances O’Grady (pictured), TUC general secretary, said:
“Everyone in the UK has bills to pay, and it’s only fair that wages should at least keep up with rising living costs. Workers in the public sector are already feeling the squeeze, and it seems like there’s worse to come.
“Government pay restrictions hurt staff in overstretched public services, and make it even harder to recruit good people. Particularly at a time of crisis in the NHS, we need to be recruiting the best people for the job.
“It’s time for ministers to give public employers the freedom to negotiate with unions for pay in their sectors.”
The TUC proposes that the government allows each part of the public sector to determine appropriate pay, rather than a blanket national limit.
The organisation is also calling on the government to reform pay review bodies to be genuinely independent, and raise low public sector pay to become a real living wage employer.