The true cost of Local governments’ pay and increment freezes on Black staff

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2013 Local Government Service Group Conference
20 February 2013

Local government employees have had their pay and in some instances increments frozen for the past three years. Councils like Sheffield are planning to dismiss and re-engage staff to force through yet another pay and increment freeze. Black staff employed in the public sector are concentrated in the lower grades and the impact on such pay restraint is significant.

Conference, the cumulative effect of the three-year pay freeze and high inflation has been a 13% fall in pay for council workers, while food and fuel costs have risen. The lowest paid didn’t even receive the £250 they were promised in 2010. Too few of us have the luxury of a living wage and the increased cost of living is putting our health at risk as we struggle to make ends meet. The increase in food banks reinforces the need for a living wage so that we can all afford to live comfortably, communities depend on people working and earning decent pay.

Conference, sixty-nine per cent of UNISON members working in local government have had to cut back spending on food in the last twelve months according to a recent survey. The lowest pay rate in local government has been stuck at £6.30 an hour for nearly four years – that’s only 10 pence above the National Minimum Wage.

It is not just the lowest paid who are feeling the squeeze, but those in professional and technical jobs who are being paid less than their private sector counterparts.

The 2013-14 pay claim recognised that our members are suffering the effects of an unprecedented three-year pay freeze, widespread redundancies and cuts to their terms and conditions of employment. All of this is set against a backdrop of government driven austerity measures that sees local government facing cuts to funding, increased job insecurity and services being cut at a time when they are needed most.

Conference therefore calls on the Service Group Executive to:

1)Continue research into the impact of the austerity measures on Black members

2)Highlight the specific impact on Black and other disadvantaged members, whilst campaigning for a living wage

3)Provide guidance and advice to support Black members and stewards seeking to challenge dismissal and reengagement tactics by employers to impose and terms and conditions