Council pay rise likely to be 3%

2 Mar 00
Up to 1.3 million local government workers are set to receive a pay rise of just 3% despite warnings that councils are facing a worsening recruitment crisis.

03 March 2000

In a relatively speedy settlement, the unions – Unison, the T&G and the GMB – have agreed to consult members on the 3% pay offer. But they describe it as 'the best that can be achieved by negotiation' – a clear indication that they expect it to be accepted.

The deal, expected to be just above headline inflation forecasts of 2.7% in April, will add an extra £390m to local authorities' £13bn annual pay bill.

The unions had tabled a claim for a 5% pay rise, for the third consecutive year. But, after warnings that local authorities could afford only 2%–2.5%, they agreed to settle.

The deal suggests a more pragmatic and conciliatory relationship between the unions and employers, with neither side willing to repeat last year's deadlocked talks that were brokered by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.

'Given indications from councils, the current rate of inflation and the downward trend in other pay settlements, we thought it was the best offer we could get,' Heather Wakefield, Unison's deputy head of local government said.

But, after a survey of 10,000 local government staff, Unison nonetheless warned of rising levels of dissatisfaction with pay and conditions. It found that 44% of workers were actively looking for another job.

The survey is designed to draw the government's attention to local government as it continues to boost the pay of other public sector workers. For the second year, council staff will receive one of the lowest pay rises, compared with nurses' 3.4%–7.8%, doctors' 3.3% and teachers' 3.5%.

The union is warning that without a 'morale-boosting' pay increase, councils could be faced with a recruitment crisis. Over 70% of those surveyed said they had experienced staff shortages in the past 12 months, and anecdotal evidence suggests that recruitment problems are spreading northwards from the traditional blackspots in the south-east.

Figures from the Employers' Organisation appear to back up this trend, with a fall of 24,000 (2%) in the number employed between mid-1998 and 1999.

But secretary Charles Nolda dismissed the union's claims, stating that working efficiencies and changes in the labour market had resulted in the decline.

l Pay increases for NHS chief executives are lagging behind those of other hospital staff, according to figures from Pay & Workforce Research. A quarter of all chiefs received increases of less than 1.6% in 1998/99 and 18% had no increase at all.


Did you enjoy this article?