Employers break deadlock on council pay

Public sector unions have welcomed an improved pay offer after Local Government Employers broke its deadlock on negotiations this week.

At a meeting on Tuesday, council chiefs agreed by a majority vote to make a final offer of a 1% pay rise to council workers for the current financial year. They had been offered 0.5%. The lowest-paid council workers, earning up to £13,703 a year, will receive an additional 0.25% pay rise.

Staff will also receive one extra day leave from 1 April 2009 and LGE committed to a joint redundancy avoidance agreement to be in place by December.

Warning of sacrifices

“We are pleased that the local government employers have come forward with an improved pay offer,” said Unison’s head of local government, Heather Wakefield.

“Although we believe that our members are worth more, we are pleased that the employers have realised that 0.5% was an insult. It is also vital that we have an agreement in place to protect jobs in the sector. This will help keep services running through the recession – when families and communities need them most.”

But Sir Steve Bullock, chair of the Local Government Association HR panel, said sacrifices would have to be made.

“The perfect storm of reduced income and increasing demands for services, combined with the low inflation rate has meant that employers have to make some tough decisions on pay and spending,” Bullock said. 

Threat of withdrawal

“Since councils set their budgets for this year the recession has meant the money available for pay has been squeezed and, for many councils, this improved offer will have to be paid for by savings.”

He warned that the offer would be withdrawn and negotiations ended if it was rejected. Unison’s national committee and the National Joint Council trade union side will meet next week to start the consultation on the offer.

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