Pay talks restart

Unions and the Employers’ Organisation for Local Government were
due to meet this week in the latest round of pay talks.

Since negotiations became deadlocked in February, employers’
representatives have held four regional meetings with local
authorities and written to every council, giving feedback on the
negotiations and consulting on the way forward.

The consultation with council chief executives has sought their
views on which options the authority could live with “bearing in
mind that ‘option A’ [sticking at 3 per cent] would almost
certainly lead to a strike ballot”.

The other options include a 3.5 per cent increase to run from
May or June for 10 or 11 months, or a pay deal with the same total
cost, but including “some bottom-loading” through combined
percentage and cash increases.

The closing date for responses was 19 March. An employers’
spokesman said the feedback so far suggested a 3 per cent increase
was the most that local authorities felt they could afford.

Unison national secretary Malcolm Wing has previously questioned
such council claims, citing a 14 per cent rise in the government
grant over the past four years. Employers rejected the unions’ bid
in February for an annual increase of £1,000 across the board,
which would have set a minimum hourly rate of £5.11. Unison,
which represents 800,000 of the 1.3 million council workers,
described the 3 per cent offer as “derisory”.

Earlier this month, Unison local government members in Scotland
accepted a pay offer worth 14.2 per cent over four years. An
additional flat rate payment of £500 brought the minimum wage
in Scottish local government to more than £5 an hour.

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