The three largest local government unions, representing 1.4 million employees in schools and councils across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland have submitted a 10% pay claim. The claim for the year from next April would also see the lowest-paid staff earning at least £10 per hour. The unions are seeking to reverse the real-terms pay cuts suffered by local authority staff since 2010 and lift the lowest paid out of in-work poverty. For eight years from 2010 council workers suffered government-imposed pay restraint, with their wages either frozen or held to a one percent pay increase.
UNISON, GMB and Unite’s joint claim also includes a one-day increase to employees’ annual leave entitlement and a two-hour reduction in the standard working week.
UNISON head of local government Jon Richards said: “Council staff have paid a heavy price during the years of austerity, keeping services going when cash was in
short supply and hundreds of thousands of their colleagues lost their jobs.
“The government claims the cuts are behind us, but no new money behind the recent pay announcement for teachers, police officers and the armed forces suggests otherwise. The new PM should make good the damage of the past, and fund local government properly to protect jobs, wages, and services.”
GMB national secretary Rehana Azam said: “Our members deserve a real pay rise. Boris Johnson needs to put his money where his mouth is and help reverse the last decade’s brutal cuts to our members’ quality of life.
“Local government workers’ earnings have been devalued by up to 22%. After ten years of real-terms pay cuts our demand for a 10% pay rise and a minimum of £10 an hour is more than reasonable.
“Two out of three people now want the government to increase spending on public services – and all political parties agree the public sector needs greater investment.
“GMB is campaigning for pay justice. It’s high time the government started properly investing in our public services and local government workers.”
Unite national officer for local government Jim Kennedy said: “We are strongly supporting a 10 percent pay increase and a £10 minimum rate claim for local government workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for the year starting April 2020.
“There are other highly important elements to our claim that revolve around work-life balance and the wellbeing of our member's mental health.
“Our claim is based on the fact that local government staff have borne the brunt of the government’s harsh austerity regime since 2010. Our members have seen their pay cut in real terms by 22 percent since then and they need a substantial pay lift in recognition of the dedicated work that they do to keep council services running smoothly 24/7.”
The unions presented the pay claim to the Local Government Association last week and the employers are expected to respond in the autumn.