Prime Minister must intervene to fund a fair pay rise for council workers

Local services will only be resilient with “a valued and fairly rewarded workforce”

UNISON has today (Monday) urged the Prime Minister to make funding available for council workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who keep communities safe and clean, educate children and care for the sick and elderly to have the pay rise they deserve.

In a letter to Boris Johnson, the union’s general secretary Christina McAnea said the local services that have been vital to millions will only continue to be resilient if they have “a valued and fairly rewarded workforce”.

She points out these workers are often “low-paid women who have been the backbone of our country throughout the pandemic”.

The union is urging the Prime Minister to intervene and says extra money in the pockets of care workers, school caterers, cleaners, refuse collectors, housing officers, crematorium workers and other council colleagues will go back into the high street to rejuvenate local economies. In addition, a pay rise would increase tax revenue and reduce spending on benefits.

Earlier this month, unions representing local government workers rejected the “insulting” 1.5% pay increase put forward by employers. Not only did it fall well short of inflation, it is also considerably below the 10% claim put forward by unions, UNISON says.

The local government employers meet tomorrow (Tuesday) to decide their response to the unions that represent hundreds of thousands of council and school workers.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Workers such as refuse collectors, social workers, teaching assistants and street cleaners have gone above and beyond during the pandemic. They went to work, so that others could stay home.

“They are not well-paid and 25% has been wiped from the value of their pay since 2010. The majority are low-paid women who have been the backbone of our country throughout the pandemic. So it is indefensible that they should now be offered a real-terms pay cut.

“Local government workers deserve a pay rise and this must be funded from central government as councils’ resources are already tight.”

Notes to editors:

 The letter to the Prime Minister is available on UNISON’s website.

– GMB, Unite and UNISON submitted a joint pay claim to the local government employers in February for a 10% pay rise for school and council staff. This would be payable from 1 April 2021.   

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