Council staff put in new wage claim

    Local government unions in England and Wales and Northern
    Ireland have submitted their pay claim for 2004.

    The main planks are minimum of £6 an hour, 4 per cent plus
    £200 across the board, increased annual leave and better
    maternity and paternity leave provision.

    Heather Wingfield, head of local government at Unison, rejected
    employers’ claims that the deal was unrealistic. She said it
    was a “modest claim” on basic pay and that it was a
    step towards “meeting some of the recommendations of the
    local government pay commission”.

    She added that: “It tackles low pay, equal pay, and better
    training for the workforce and is aimed at meeting the
    government’s agenda for first class public
    services”.

    The claim in full:

    • The abolition of spinal column pay points 4, 5 and 6 –
    currently £5.33/£5.45 and £5.53 an hour.
    •  An increase of 4% plus £200 on all remaining pay
    points.
    • An increase of 4% on all allowances.
    •  Completion of equal pay audits and pay and grading reviews
    in every council within two years, in accordance with the single
    status agreement, and with additional ring-fenced funding to enable
    councils to carry them out.
    •  The urgent completion of the training and workforce
    development agreement, with targets and deadlines for
    implementation and additional ring-fenced funding.
    •  An increase to the basic annual leave entitlement to 25
    days per year.
    • An increase in paid maternity leave to eight weeks full pay
    and 14 weeks half pay, and a reduction in the qualifying period
    from 52 weeks to 26 weeks.
    •  Two weeks paid maternity support leave.
    • In respect of a premature birth, additional paid maternity
    leave for a specified number of weeks, to be calculated as
    equivalent to the period dating from the actual date of the
    child’s birth to the due date.
    •  Paid adoption leave (in line with paid maternity leave)
    for all adoptions of children under 18.

    There are more than a million local government workers in
    England and Wales and Northern Ireland.

    Employers have already rejected the claim as being
    “unrealistic” and “unaffordable”. The
    claim, say employers, disregards the findings of the local
    government pay commission. The commission rejected moves to
    substantially increase the salaries of low paid workers and stated
    that the current package for local government employees was
    comparable to that in other sectors.

    Local government employers in England and Wales had earlier
    announced plans to seek a three-year pay deal with trade unions.
    The employers had wanted to secure an agreement that does not put
    pressure on council tax levels, which also looked at:

    • new skills pathways for front-line staff
    • develop local training and workforce plans.
    • review of benefits packages and conditions of service.

    Meanwhile, Unison Scotland confirmed that it would be
    asking for a “significant pay rise” for council workers
    in Scotland when its four-year deal expires this
    year.

    Unison’s Scottish organiser for local government, Joe Di
    Paola, said the claim, which is due to be agreed between the unions
    soon, was likely to be for a figure above the rate of inflation
    that dealt with recruitment problems and addressed the gender
    gap.

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