Unions escalate pay row with employers

Industrial action by local government workers, including social care staff, now looks “inevitable” as unions registered a formal dispute over employers’ unwillingness to go beyond their 2% offer in this year’s pay talks.

Local government unions Unison, GMB and Unite said they would soon ballot members on industrial action if Local Government Employers (LGE), which represents English councils, did not improve on its offer.

Pay talks broke down in July, with the unions saying industrial action was inevitable.

The unions claimed that the employers had been unable to agree among themselves what line to take in the negotiations and said that many councils had already budgeted for a rise of at least 2.5%. The unions want a 5% pay rise for 2007-8.

Heather Wakefield (pictured), Unison’s head of local government, said: “The employers need to get their act together, behave responsibly and improve their offer.”

An LGE spokesperson denied there was confusion in its position and said 2% remained its official offer. He stressed the deal had to be affordable for council tax payers.

Meanwhile, unions have criticised councils failure to implement the EU law on single status pay, which should correct the gender pay gap, which includes awarding back pay.

Authorities were meant to complete their single status pay reviews by this April but Unison said only a third had completed them and that it is mounting at least 72 legal cases over individual claims.

Members of Unison are to join GMB and TGWU members are to convene in Parliament Square at midday to rally over councils failure to implement the deal.

The total cost councils in England and Wales are expected to incur once the review is implemented in full has been estimated at between £3bn and £5bn.

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