Unions representing key workers who kept the country running during the pandemic have branded a warning from the Bank of England not to ask for big pay rises as “outrageous”. Bank governor Andrew Bailey, who earns about £500,000 a year, warned pay hikes risked entrenching high inflation. Inflation is due to average at about 6% in 2022, far above the Bank’s target of 2%, amid high energy prices and ongoing supply problems in the pandemic. But critics said workers who had seen pay stagnate for a decade should not bear the brunt of the cost of living crisis. “Telling the hard-working people who carried this country through the pandemic they don’t deserve a pay rise is outrageous. It’s a sick joke,” said Gary Smith, the GMB’s general secretary.