Local government pay – an equality issue

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2015 Local Government Service Group Conference
20 February 2015

Conference notes with concern that local government pay remains the lowest in the public sector, and that most local government workers are also paid substantially less than their equivalents in the private sector. The real value of average UK pay packets has fallen by 12% since 2010, and for most local government workers the fall has been even greater. The pay of half a million members on National Joint Council (NJC) conditions is below the Living Wage. Many members are now forced to rely on in-work benefits, pay day loans and food banks. The myth of the well-rewarded and secure public sector worker and the reality of local government pay are worlds apart.

Conference notes that three quarters of the local government workforce are women, and that Black workers, disabled workers and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers are all more likely to work in local government than in the private sector. Low paying sectors such as social care have a high proportion of migrant workers and workers from across the equalities groups, including LGBT workers. Conference reaffirms that local government pay is an equality issue.

Conference further notes that a number of local government employers have moved, or are trying to move, away from national collective bargaining. A move towards regional or local bargaining will deepen inequality and further erode pay and conditions.

Conference recognises that winning a fair deal for the local government workforce will require a strategy to build our bargaining and industrial strength that engages our members and our activists and has recruitment and organising at its heart.

Conference calls on the local government service group executive to:

1)Work with the self-organised groups to highlight the impact of worsening local government pay on different equality groups and the justice of a fair deal, as part of a campaign to recruit more members and activists from these groups and build their support for our strategy;

2)Work with the self-organised groups to develop and promote the argument that achieving UNISON’s equality aims depends on ending low pay;

3) Encourage regions and branches to work with the self-organised groups in developing their recruitment and organising campaigns;

4)Work with organisations such as Citizens UK and its regional arms to campaign for a Living Wage for our members, providing guidance and campaign materials to support branches in Living Wage campaigns, including advice on how to reach all potential members;

5)Request UNISON Labour Link to promote our campaign for fair pay for local government workers to and within the Labour Party.