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Council workers warn of action over ‘woeful’ pay offer

Unions accuse employers of ducking campaign to force adequate funding from government

UNIONS have urged their members in local government to throw out a “woeful” 1.75 per cent pay offer.

Unison, GMB and Unite have told employers to rethink their proposal to council workers in England, Wales and the north of Ireland, who have kept local services and schools running during the pandemic.

They accuse the Local Government Association (LGA) of spurning their offer of a united campaign to force the government to fund an increase that comes closer to the unions’ 10 per cent claim.

GMB national secretary Rehana Azam described the association’s refusal to make joint representations to the Treasury as “disgraceful.”

She said: “School staff, refuse collectors and council workers have kept our country moving through the coronavirus crisis, often putting themselves in harm’s way.

“Local government workers know they need a proper pay rise — and this isn’t it. 

“GMB will now meet with reps to discuss next steps for a ballot on the offer and if this leads to industrial action, members will have our full support.” 

Unite national officer Jim Kennedy said: “Local government workers will see right through the employers’ false claims that this is a pay rise.

“Local government employers are guilty of rank hypocrisy.

“On the one hand, they say they recognise the critical work that our members have undertaken, especially during the pandemic, and on the other, they are intent on imposing a real-terms pay cut on workers.

Unison’s deputy head of local government Mike Short said that reps would decide the next move. He warned: “A 0.25 per cent increase on the initial 1.5 per cent offer is insignificant.

“These workers, mostly women, are among the lowest paid in the country and have seen their pay drop substantially in recent years.

“This 1.75 per cent offer is nowhere near what’s needed.”

Lianne Dallimore, who chairs the Unison Cymru Wales local government committee, said: “A below-inflation pay offer is no good to workers who are 20 per cent poorer than a decade ago as a direct result of UK government severe spending cuts.

“Welsh council employers told us they want to recognise our contribution but don’t have the money. Well, work with us to secure extra cash from Westminster which can be invested in staff and front-line services.”

The LGA was invited to comment.

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