Council workers protest about low pay prior to pay talks

Proper funding for local authorities is needed in order to protect jobs, pay staff properly.

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The unions have tabled a pay claim calling for a 10 per cent increase for all staff and for a minimum rate of £10 per hour.

They are also calling for a two hour reduction in the working week (with no loss of pay), one extra day of annual leave and the ending of the freeze on allowances.

In the last decade local authority workers have seen their pay cut by 22 per cent in real terms, due to the government’s austerity policies.

On top of this workers are reporting that due to job cuts, staff are facing increased workloads, a culture of long hours and being required to undertake large amounts of unpaid overtime.

Even when workers have received below inflation pay increases, many report that these have effectively been clawed back as a result of cuts to locally negotiated terms, conditions and allowances.

UNISON head of local government Jon Richards said: “Council staff have been at the sharp end of cuts for a decade. Huge job losses and dwindling resources have put a massive burden on council and school workers who keep services running while finding it harder to make ends meet.

“Any new government must fix the damage and that begins with proper funding for local authorities in order to protect jobs, pay staff properly and ensure communities don’t suffer.”

Unite national officer for local government Jim Kennedy said: “Workers in local authorities have had their pay slashed as a result of a decade of austerity.

“Workers are saying enough is enough and local government employers need to reverse the real terms pay cuts that members have experienced.

“It is simply intolerable that local authority workers are being asked to undertake ever greater workloads while pay is falling in real terms.”

Rehana Azam, GMB national secretary, said: “Local government workers’ earnings have been devalued by up to 22 per cent. After 10 years of real terms pay cuts our demand for a 10 per cent pay rise and a minimum of £10 an hour is more than reasonable.

“Two out of three people now want government to increase spending on public services – and all political parties agree the public sector needs greater investment.

“As election day looms let’s hope politicians join the GMB’s campaign for pay justice. It’s high time we have proper investment in our public services.

“Local government workers need a pay award that makes up a decade of austerity pay cuts.”