Unite joins in Unison in rejecting local government pay offer

4 Mar 16

Local government workers risk becoming the “whipping boy” for public sector austerity as a result of the pay offer from council employers, the Unite union has warned.

The union is the second in the sector to reject the pay offer from the Local Government Association’s National Employers group, which represents councils from England, Wales and Northern Ireland in the National Joint Council that negotiates pay deals. Under the plan put forward in December, most council staff would receive a 1% pay rise in each of the next two years, while those earning less than £17,714 a year would receive higher increases to take account of the new National Living Wage.

Following the rejection of the deal by Unison last week, Unite, which represents around 70,000 local government workers, confirmed 87% of members voting in a ballot had rejected the pay offer.

Fiona Farmer, Unite’s national officer for local government, said the union was now awaiting ballot results from the final NJC union, the GMB, later this month before deciding on what further action to take.

“We have been very disappointed in the paltry offer from the employers. This in no way addresses the continuing issue of low pay in local government for those that staff our libraries, care for the elderly and vulnerable, collect our refuse and tend our parks,” she stated.

“It does nothing to restore the 20% real cut in earnings that have eroded our members’ pay since 2010, as well as the 25% reduction in the workforce, meaning that those remaining are working more for less. We are entering into the realm of poverty wages.”

According to Farmer, around 60% of the 1.3 million local government workers employed across England, Wales and Northern Ireland are earning less than the average annual wage of £27,600.

“Unite does recognise that local government is facing enormous financial pressures on its budgets with chancellor George Osborne taking the financial axe to local authorities, thus jeopardising much-valued council services,” she added.

“But we don’t believe that the low-paid in local government should become Osborne’s ‘whipping boy’, while the City, and the rich and powerful are whooping it up on a succession of tax-breaks.”

The LGA told Public Finance today it would be responding to the ballots once the GMB result was announced. Last week employers’ side chair Sian Timoney stressed that councils’ proposal was a “final pay offer” due to the financial restrains faced by local government.

Did you enjoy this article?