Trade unions and council bosses met last week for more negotiations over this year’s pay settlement.
Unison and other public sector unions, GMB and Amicus, rejected Local Government Employers’ initial offer of 2 per cent without consulting their members, so confident were they that the offer would be rejected.
The unions put in a pay claim of 5 per cent, arguing that inflation was running at more than 4 per cent and local government salary increases had fallen behind both inflation and average pay rises over the past three years.
But the head of the employers’ negotiation team, Phil White, told Community Care last month that the settlement had to be affordable to the taxpayer and not threaten front-line services.
We worked out that the difference between the unions’ 5 per cent claim and the 2 per cent being offered by the employers was about £50 a month for an average social worker at the top of their pay scale.
We asked you what you thought of the offer, whether you would strike and what you would do with the extra £50.
Here are some of your replies.
While 2 per cent does not sound like a lot, it still is better than a kick in the teeth. Over the past 10 years I have seen far more in my pay packet and ultimately I do this job not for the money but for the people I love to work with. In short, if others don’t think this is good enough then they should find a job elsewhere. After all, I can earn a lot more doing other jobs, but they are nowhere near as rewarding.
What would I do with all that extra cash, take more flights, invest in stocks and shares? Well it wouldn’t even buy socks and shirts would it? I think that I will just ask my employer to hand it over to St Albans Council who have just imposed on me a 5 per cent council tax hike!
The UK is the fourth largest economy in the world yet services remain under-funded and staff continue to be undervalued. In my council we are witnessing cuts of around £10.8m, a fact mirrored in many other local authorities. At the same time the government has announced it intends to spend around £70bn on replacing the Trident nuclear missile programme. A 2 per cent pay offer is way below the current rate of inflation but it also highlights what is wrong with the government’s priorities.
No, I would not be prepared to strike. My first priority is to the people I look after week in week out and I would not want to let them down by striking over what would be around a pound a week.
It’s crap. Of course we should be prepared to take strike action.
It is clear that this government, which I helped to elect, is not really concerned about decent pay and conditions for its workers. Conditions in council pay have not improved for several years and each year any pay rise we have doesn’t meet the inflation costs. Here in Suffolk we are facing a 4.5 per cent increase in council tax and at least a 10 per cent increase in water charges. To give us just 2 per cent doesn’t meet these extra costs. That’s in addition to increases in mortgages over the past few months. I am almost at the end of my career in social services but would be willing to strike to show we mean business. It is too easy to allow the Local Government Employers and government to short-change us when they are increasing their own expenses.
To have your say on the pay offer go to the Discussion Forum
This article appeared in the 12 April issue under the headline “Will staff anger over pay offer explode into strike action?”