Employers recommend pay rise for social workers

Social workers’ pay should be the first to be given a
boost in local authorities, according to the employers’ submission
to the Local Government Pay Commission, writes Clare

While public sector unions prioritised low pay and equal pay as
their key issues to be addressed, employers believe there is no
business case to address, as generally speaking they can fill most
of their vacancies at current pay rates.

“If resources were available, our priorities would be to
enhance the pay of middle managers and specialists (like social
workers, for instance) who are usually the most difficult to
attract and retain,” the Employers Organisation conceded.

Other recommendations included:

–  introducing ‘skills escalators’ to enable
frontline staff who wish to progress to train for work at a higher
level, and advocates the redesign of many frontline jobs to
increase productivity, which could in turn increase pay levels.

– appropriate pay rates for trainees to increase the number of
young people joining the workforce, and for the commission to focus
on the overall employment package for local government workers
including training, leave, and flexible working.

– strikes should have no place in local government and should be
made unnecessary by more effective bargaining and arbitration.
Local bargaining and flexibility should be retained and enhanced, 
it adds.

But public sector union Unison branded the submission
“dangerous and dated”, warning that it doomed low paid
women to even lower pay.

Seventy five per cent of the workforce are female and form the
largest group of low paid workers. They would be big losers out of
any move to local bargaining, the union said, fearing the employers
would use the bargaining to ‘peg’ women’s jobs to
market rates, which they know can be lower than those in

National secretary for local government, Heather Wakefield said
given the employers’ track record, Unison had “no
confidence that the employers would approach local bargaining with
the needs of the majority of the workforce in mind”.

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