Nearly 70% of local government workers considered leaving their jobs in the past year, saying they felt undervalued and poorly paid, an NOP survey has found.

The NOP Local Government Members Survey 2002, one of the largest surveys of local government staff, was commissioned by UNISON to examine attitudes to pay and working conditions.

The survey results highlight the retention and recruitment crisis in local government and point to low pay as a key issue affecting staff.

UNISON is seeking a 6% or £1,750 pay rise for local government workers, who are the lowest paid in the public sector. The average allowance paid to Council leaders (£12,403) is the average salary of more than half the local government workforce.

Local government authorities have made a final offer of 3%. On Monday June 10, UNISON will start balloting its local government members to support a national strike over pay on July 17.

UNISON national secretary for local government, Heather Wakefield, said:

ÒItÕs goodbye to goodwill. Local government workers provide essential services which hold communities together. The NOP report shows that a third of those surveyed work extra hours for which they are neither paid nor receive time in lieu. And quite often work those extra hours at short notice.

ÒThese are dedicated workers who say they feel undervalued by their employers, poorly paid, and lack the resources to do their jobs well. Three quarters experienced staff shortages and nearly half are worried about their long term job security.

ÒThe employers can show they are serious about the retention and recruitment crisis by making a realistic pay offer and demonstrating just how much they value their employees.Ó


Nearly seven in ten (68%) had considered leaving their current job Ð just over half (37%) said they had seriously considered leaving, rising to 41% for housing staff. Of those who had considered leaving their current job, two in five (41%) were actively looking for a new post. This rose to half of all day care (55%) and IT (53%) workers.

The main reason was that they felt undervalued (58%); were dissatisfied with pay (45%); had a lack of resources with which to do their jobs as well as they would like (42%); and had a lack of promotion prospects (42%).

Over a quarter of members (29%) worked additional hours but did not receive payment, or TOIL, for them, an increase from 26% in 2001. Women were more likely to work overtime for which they did not receive pay or time off.

The weekly wage band containing the highest number of members was £161.01 – £228.00. 2% earned under £50 per week while 3% were in the highest income bracket earning £546.01.

Women were three times more likely than men to be earning less than £161.000 per week Ð 33% compared to 11%.

71% felt that compared to this time last year, workload and pressure in their work area or department had increased. 69% felt that stress levels in their area of department had increased compared with the same time last year. Three in five (57%) felt moral had got worse.

Almost 50% of members were more likely to feel worried about their job security in the longer term. Members working in housing and residential care were particularly worried about the future of their jobs.

Three in ten (32%) said the use of temporary staff in their work areas or department had increased in the last year.

18% of members in the South reported an increase in the number of frozen posts; 13% in the North and Midlands; 8% in Wales. Social workers (24%) and day care workers (28%) were most likely to believe that the number of frozen posts had increased.

A third of men (31%) had seen or experienced a physical threat by a service user in the past 12 months compared to 23% of women. More than half had experienced verbal abuse by a service user in the past year.

51% of women and only 40% of men said they would recommend their occupation or profession.