Local government pay: ‘Abysmal’ 2.2% offer could herald strikes

Unison, GMB and Unite have condemned employers’ 2.2% pay offer for English, Welsh and Northern Irish staff and warned industrial action could be on the cards.

Yesterday’s offer is lower than the government’s consumer price index measure of inflation – which was 2.5% at the latest count – far lower than the broader retail price index figure of 4.1% and well below the unions’ claim of 6%, submitted in January.

GMB national secretary Brian Strutton described the offer as abysmal, and added: “There will need to be significant improvements, particularly for the lower paid, or there will be severe political and industrial consequences.”

Unison’s head of local government, Heather Wakefield, said council staff had already put up with ten years of below inflation pay settlements. She added: “Our members live in the real world, with real inflation and 2.2% does not go anywhere near to covering the huge hikes in basic living costs such as food, housing, gas and electricity.”

Peter Allenson, national organiser at Unite, said: “Our members in the front line have delivered for local communities. It is time the employers recognised this in their pay packets rather than propose a further cut in living standards.”

Local Government Employers said it was taking a “firm but fair” approach to ensure that any offer was affordable. Vice-chair of the employers’ negotiating team, Roger Philips, said: “It must be borne in mind that if the pay settlement is set too high then local authorities will have to make unpleasant choices between cutting front line services and laying off staff, neither of which either the unions or the employers want to see.”

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