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Unison rejects ‘derisory’ local government pay offer

By Richard Johnstone | 27 February 2013

Unison has urged its local government members to reject both pay offers made by Local Government Employers. The union said it would seek the views of members on the possible deals proposed for 2013/14 but would also consult members over possible industrial action over pay.

Two options have been put forward by the employers, both of which would end the three-year pay freeze for council workers. The first is a 1% increase for all workers if national employment terms in the Green Book are changed. Suggested alterations to the terms include cutting mileage rates and removing the arbitration clause that allows either unions or employers to seek arbitration in a sector-wide dispute.

A second option is a 1% pay increase for staff in the six lowest pay grades and 0.6% for higher earning staff, without any changes in terms.

Rejecting both these proposals, Unison’s head of local government, Heather Wakefield, said pay for council workers had declined by 15% in real terms over the three years of the current freeze. Many authorities had also cut overtime payments and redundancy pay. At the same time, 260,000 posts had been deleted through redundancies and scrapping of vacant posts since the coalition took office, she added.

‘Our members have done their best to fill the gaps left by drastic government cuts, but they can be stretched no further.

‘Local government is a bargain basement employer, with pay for thousands barely above minimum wage rates. After three years of no pay increase at all, enough really is enough. We hope the employers see sense and make an improved offer.’

She said it was ‘unclear where the employers have got their mandate for this derisory offer’, as almost 50 councils were now paying – or were pledged to pay – the Living Wage of £7.45 an hour or £8.55 an hour in London.

‘Many others have publicly supported a no-strings 1% increase in line with government public sector pay policy,’ Wakefield added.

The GMB union is also consulting its members employed by local councils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on the pay offer.

National secretary for public services Brian Strutton said: ‘GMB has been arguing very strongly that the three-year pay freeze in local government must end and at least we have achieved that.

‘However, the two alternative offers the employers have made are of low value and I am not sure that either of them are sufficient to be acceptable to our members.

‘So over the next few weeks we will start the process of consulting our members to find out if they want to accept one of these options or reject them both.’

A spokesman for the Local Government Association said they would not comment while unions were consulting on the proposals.

Unison has urged its local government members to reject both pay offers made by Local Government Employers.

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