Unison condemns council pay ‘scramble’

6 Sep 13
Councils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have had to ‘scramble’ to avoid breaking the law through paying workers less than the National Minimum Wage when it is increased next month, trade union Unison has said.

By Richard Johnstone | 6 September 2013

Councils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have had to ‘scramble’ to avoid breaking the law through paying workers less than the National Minimum Wage when it is increased next month, trade union Unison has said.

Payslip local government

The wages of more than 21,000 workers in occupations such as cleaning and catering will now be just above the national minimum wage when the rate goes up to £6.31 an hour on October 1, the union said. However, this is only as a result of Local Government Employers deleting the bottom grade in the national pay agreement, which would have not met the new level. The new lowest pay grade in local government is set at £6.45 an hour.

Unison’s head of local government Heather Wakefield said the ‘face-saving’ move to delete a whole pay grade had shown how endemic low pay is across local authorities.

‘And what a disgrace that councils waited until the very last moment to delete the bottom rate – on the same day as the new minimum wage becomes law,’ she said.

‘We need more councils to take a long hard look at their workforce and try to imagine families surviving on £6.45 an hour.’

She highlighted that, even after the change, more than 500,000 local government workers would continue to earn below the living wage rate, set at £7.45 an hour outside of London.

Unison research has also found that if local government workers had received pay rises in line with the Retail Prices Index from 2010 to 2013 – instead of a pay freeze and squeeze – their pay would be 18% higher.

‘Fifty-three percent of local council workers’ pay ends up in the cash tills of local businesses, shops and cafés,’ Wakefield said. ‘With pay rates set so low, council workers cannot afford to go out and spend in their local high street and this is leading to shops closing, councils losing rates and a vicious circle of decline.’

Spacer

CIPFA logo

PF Jobsite logo

Did you enjoy this article?

AddToAny

Top