Public sector unions are lobbying for a 2.5% pay increase for local government staff across England, Wales and Northern Ireland for 2010-11.
The leaders of Unison, Unite and GMB described their claim of 2.5% or £500 for the lowest-paid staff as “modest” and “affordable”. They said social workers, care assistants and other groups were at “the bottom of the public sector pay league”.
Employers: show restraint
Employers responded by calling for restraint with councils facing spending cuts in the ongoing recession.
Unions: deal is ‘affordable’
Brian Strutton, national secretary for GMB, said: “GMB is very clear that our 2010 pay claim is affordable and no more than council workers deserve.”
He added that the union had issued the claim after researching local authorities’ finances and finding the increase would be sustainable.
Falling incomes and rising demand
However, Steve Bullock, chair of the Local Government Association human resources panel, stressed that councils were operating in an extremely challenging financial climate: “Now is not the time to be even thinking about an inflation-busting pay claim. Across the public sector people are accepting the need for pay restraint.
“Councils are in a very difficult financial position this year. They have been coping with a perfect storm of falling incomes and increasing demand for services over the past year and face the prospect of further spending cuts in the months to come.”
Bullock added that the LGA would make a formal response to the claim after consulting its members.