Analysis of statistics by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) found that 2022 was the worst year for real wage growth in 45 years.
Real wages is the amount that people earned in relation to their cost of living and on average these fell by £76 per month this year because earnings weren't keeping up with inflation.
Against a backdrop of several different groups of workers going on strike, key workers in the public sector are now £180 a month worse off in real terms than they were a year ago according to the analysis.
It's the sharpest fall in real wages since 1977 and the second worst on record since the end of World War II.
Nurses' real pay fell by £1,800 over the last 12 months according to the TUC and they are earning £5,000 less in real terms than they were in 2010. For midwives and paramedics that number rises to more than £6,000.
General secretary of the TUC Frances O'Grady said that workers are "being pushed to breaking point" by years of pay austerity.
“Family budgets have been shredded by soaring bills and more than a decade of pay being held down. The Conservatives have presided over the longest real wage squeeze in over 200 years,” she said.
“The Tories’ failure to get pay rising has left millions of households brutally exposed to the cost of living emergency. It’s time to reward work – not wealth. We cannot be a country where NHS and teaching staff have to use food banks, while City bankers are given unlimited bonuses.”
Nursing unions have offered to suspend planned strikes in return for pay negotiations but this offer was turned down by the government. The unions have requested a 17.6% pay rise for nurses by ministers have described this as "unaffordable".
A government spokesperson said: “We are increasing the wages of millions of workers by raising the ‘national living wage’ to £10.42 an hour in April – an extra £1,600 a year for a full-time worker.
“On top of this, the energy price guarantee will save a typical household around £700 this winter, whilst we have reversed the rise in national insurance contributions and made changes to universal credit to help working households keep more of what they earn.
“It is vital we bear down on inflation, which is eating away at people’s wages, however we also recognise the vital contribution the public sector makes to our country, which is why we have offered 2 million workers the highest pay uplift in nearly 20 years.”