Unions call off strike to consider new pay offer

Local government unions have called off a national strike
planned for August 14 after a breakthrough in pay talks,
writes Janet Snell.

Acas, the arbitration service, has proposed a two year deal
under which staff will receive increases ranging from 7.7 per cent
to 10.9 per cent for the lowest paid.

Unions and employers representatives have agreed to recommend
their members accept the package which includes a new minimum rate
of £5 an hour backdated to April this year.

The proposal also includes the setting up of a new local
government pay commission which will report within 12 months on
measures to end low pay, and promote equal pay for men and women in
a bid to find a long term solution to the salaries issue.

Brian Baldwin, chairperson of the employers’ negotiating team,
said: “There’s no doubt that these proposals present a challenge to
councils to ensure that services are maintained. Councils have to
find a balance between pay, the need to protect services and jobs
and the demands on council taxpayers. The proposals are right at
the limit of affordability.”

But a spokesperson for Unison maintained there was money
available. “In local government in general, and in social care
particularly, the vacancy rate is so high that authorities are
making savings on the wage bill.

So we would strongly resist any suggestion that cuts in services
were needed in order to fund these proposals.”

The deal on the table includes:

– a 3 per cent increase from 1 April this year

– a further 1 per cent in October (or 2 per cent for the lowest

– a 3.5 per cent rise from April 2003 (plus an extra 1 per cent
for the lowest paid)











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