What a disgrace to see local government employers calling off pay talks, because they want to wait and see what the new minimum wage will be. The minimum wage is there as a safety net, it is supposed to be a floor through which no worker should fall– it was never intended as a guide to paying the legal minimum an employer can get away with.
When the minimum wage was introduced in 1999 – something UNISON was proud to have campaigned long and hard for – the bottom rate for local government workers was 24% above it. That figure is down to just 2.2%.
I find that statistic really shocking. It iss certainly not down to the fact that the minimum wage has gone rocketing up, but rather pay in local government has deteriorated over the years – most obviously since the coalition came to power.
The unions have jointly lodged a formal dispute with the employers and UNISON will be meeting this week to decide the next steps.
The employers are dragging their heels and dragging our members further into poverty pay. Our claim for a £1.20 an hour increase is fair and affordable – and the rise for 1.6m local government workers is due on 1 April, so there is no time to waste.
My message to the local government employers is clear – stop wasting time and make an offer now.