UNISON, the UK’s largest union, today welcomed the employers swift response to the union’s claim for a substantial pay rise for council workers, indicating their willingness to break the three year pay freeze. UNISON head of local government Heather Wakefield said:

“The employers’ willingness to break the three year pay freeze is welcome, and we hope this is the first step towards reaching an agreement that is acceptable to both sides.

“However, local government conditions of service are already the worst in the public sector, so any proposals to worsen them and introduce local bargaining are unlikely to be warmly received by our members.”

“We expect the employers to take our claim for a substantial pay increase seriously.”

The three-year pay freeze in local government has been unique in the public sector. Public sector workers earning under £21,000 were promised a £250 increase in the Chancellor’s first budget – local government workers did not get that increase.

The cumulative effect of this coupled with high inflation has meant that, since 2009, pay for council staff such as care workers, librarians, school dinner ladies, teaching assistants, bin men and street cleaners has fallen13% across the board. In the meantime the cost of living has soared, with the cost of basics such as food and energy putting ever-increasing pressure on household budgets that are already stretched to the limit.

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