Threat of industrial action over ‘paltry’ 1% pay rise for social workers and other council staff in 2014

Local Government Employers says the offer balances its commitment to increasing pay with the financial pressures faced by councils

Credit: Monkey Business Images/Rex

Unions will ballot local government employees in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on whether to take industrial action after it was revealed the majority will receive a below-inflation pay rise this year.

Unison, GMB and Unite submitted a claim last October for a £1 per hour pay rise for all council employees from 1 April.

The unions said this would bring the lowest paid workers – who are on £6.45 per hour – up to a rate roughly equivalent to the living wage (outside London) of £7.65.

However, Local Government Employers (LGE) has responded to the claim with an offer of a 1% pay rise for employees earning more than £14,880, including social workers.

Around 50,000 of the lowest paid local government workers will receive a slightly higher increase.

Sian Timoney, who chaired the employers’ side of the negotiations, said: “There is a broad consensus among councils that there should be a pay offer to staff this year.

“At a time when local government is tackling the biggest cuts in living memory, this offer balances our commitment to increase the pay of our hardworking employees with the responsibility we have to address the significant financial pressures we face.

“We believe that this is a fair deal for employees, given the limits of what we can afford, and a fair deal for the taxpayers and residents who use and pay for the vital services which local government provides.”

However, the unions called it a “slap in the face” for local government workers.

“This paltry offer of 1% is a pay cut in real terms as the RPI [Retail Price Index] rate of inflation is running at 2.8% – and it will continue to cement poverty pay for thousands working for local councils,” said Unite’s national officer for local government, Fiona Farmer.

“We will be consulting our members with a recommendation to reject this offer and industrial action by our members is very much on the cards.”

Unison’s head of local government, Heather Wakefield, added: “It is outrageous that the vast majority of local government workers have effectively been offered another pay cut.

“Although the long overdue modest rise for the lowest paid workers is welcome, this offer is another slap in the face for local government workers.”

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8 Responses to Threat of industrial action over ‘paltry’ 1% pay rise for social workers and other council staff in 2014

  1. DAVID HAMBLY March 24, 2014 at 11:27 am #

    This Governement have ensured that unfairness shall not perish from this earth. Government for the rich, by the rich, for the rich. Austerity for the people inflicted by a Government no-one wanted or elected. I warn you not too be old, a Local Government worker, or have a sense of fairness. Civilisation demands that we stand firm and fight these viscious attacks on public sector workers and bring an end to this most wicked and vile Government. Stand proud, fight, fight and fight again against pay cuts and an agenda that says that the deficit will only be cut off the backs of the poor and through cuts in pay. The bankers get £32,000 a week pay rise, because their worth it. Cameron pays his special adviser friends huge salaries and has given big pay rises for them, while telling NHS Nurses they can eat cake. Down with this Tory Governent of spivs and gangsters.

  2. Joe March 24, 2014 at 4:25 pm #

    I do not see what the problem is. I work as a social worker and count myself lucky I actually have a job in the public sector. Most LA social workers are on a pay band basis so as long as they are practicing effectively then they get a ‘pay rise’ every year. If you aren’t or have been off sick too much then you don’t – what’s unfair about this?My friends in the private sector aren’t on a pay scale. I think we should count ourselves lucky.

    • Phil Sanderson March 24, 2014 at 6:06 pm #

      I am at the top of my pay scale so this myth of an increment every year is just not true. Our pay has dropped 18% since the banking crisis and they are in the private sector they do not seem to be suffering at all. I am about to lose over a £100 month car allowance as well that adds up to £1200 pay cut. So am I feeling lucky? No!!

    • DAVID HAMBLY March 26, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

      I take it you are young, inexperienced, don’t live or work around London and probably don’t have a mortgage. Firstly we are not lucky to have a job or work in the public sector. Our pay has been cut due to Austerity and pay freezes. You need to grow a backbone and stand will your colleagues when they take industrial action over poor pay and continued attempts to make the public sector pay for a crisis caused by capitalist bankers. I would suggest also that your attitude towards colleagues who are sick needs a rethink. You seem like the kind of Tory mouthpiece that the public sector just doesn’t need at this time. If you sir cannot see the problem perhaps you need to wake up and take another look. We are rapidly losing ground with pay cuts, pay freezes and cuts to out pensions, terms and conditions. i find it hard to believe that you are a Social Worker with your such attitudes you will go far.

      • Kirsty McGregor
        Kirsty McGregor March 27, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

        Sorry David, sometimes genuine comments are filtered out by our overzealous spam detector. They should appear now. Kirsty

    • Joy March 27, 2014 at 9:28 am #

      I’m glad you feel lucky Joe and I understand your position. However in my council we have had a pay freeze for the past 4 years. We may get the 1% this year !! Big deal..
      If a recommendation is made at Appraisal to get an increment these are going to be put forward to a panel and only 25% will be put through..
      There is also likely to be a mandatory 3 days unpaid leave a year!
      We have had almost 1/5 of our county Older Peoples team leave during that 4 year period and none of them have been replaced. We have long waiting lists, stupidly complicated processes and have been charged with cutting every service users care package causing enormous distress to service users and staff alike. Complaints are rising.
      Every package of care we put in is challenged and scrutinised in great detail by managers. Staff morale has never been so low and the stress is enormous. Almost everyone is working lots more hours than they are paid for just to try to keep up with the work.
      So should we still consider ourselves to be lucky? Do you really think this isn’t a problem?
      I would like to remind you that if the country can afford to set itself up as the policeman of the world and spend money on killing people in foreign countries and unnecessary projects like Trident then it can absolutely afford to look after it’s elderly people in a dignified and compassionate way and pay it’s public sector staff at least a wage that’s in line with inflation.
      I’m not even going to go into all the billions owed from tax evasion !

  3. M March 25, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    Hi Joe.
    I partially agree with you however you might wait until you get to the top of your band, Your perception might than change. It is true that after they pay freeze anything is good. But I do side with the unions as the pay raise should be proportionate to the inflation rate at least. (every year we have to pay more for goods and services and we had done this for the past 5 years )
    Totally agree with the Unions.

    Regards

  4. Luke March 25, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    This is on the backdrop of pay freeze and cuts to services. The LA that i work at has already made redundancies. I do not know a single SW that actually get their over time pay, it’s just become part of the job unfortunately. This means that most SW’s i know work 6days a week with very long hours. Pay should match inflation i.e. cost of food increase, rent increase, travel increase, council tax etc. I’m not sure if a one day of action will achieve anything. As a Social Worker, i think a strategy is needed to address the rising inequality as this is the underlying issue that causes so many problems.