Unions reject ‘derisory’ pay offer

Local government unions have slammed the pay offer made by local
government employers as “derisory”, claiming it would cause dismay
among council workers.

Employers proposed a 7 per cent pay increase over three years and
pledged to review issues such as car allowances, annual leave, and
maternity and paternity pay.

But Unison, the GMB and the Transport and General Workers Union
claimed last week that the proposal would not deliver decent pay to
local public sector staff. The GMB’s national secretary Mick Graham
said: “It does not address key issues affecting public service
workers and the government’s modernisation plans cannot be achieved
under this derisory offer.

“It would exacerbate recruitment and retention problems already
facing vital services in our communities,” Graham said.

In their 2004 pay claim, submitted last month, the unions called
for the abolition of the three lowest pay grades in order to raise
the lowest paid local government workers’ salaries, and a 4 per
cent plus £200 rise for all other staff.

The unions also wanted 4 per cent on all allowances, an increase in
annual leave, maternity and paternity pay, paid adoption leave and
the completion of training and workforce development.

At the time, employers branded the claim “unrealistic and
unaffordable”, and warned that it would add another 5.26 per cent
to the £14.7bn local government pay bill (news, page 10, 5

But Unison’s head of local government Heather Wakefield said it was
an “insult” to staff to be told they were worth even less than
inflation and less than other public sector workers and warned that
“even more staff will vote with their feet”.

Meanwhile, the GMB has welcomed the government’s signing off of new
procedures to settle workforce issues that arise where a local
authority transfers staff to an external provider as part of a
contract to provide a local public service.

The alternative dispute resolution, the final piece of the two-tier
workforce agreement, must now be incorporated into any contract
awarded by a local authority. Graham said it was a “major victory”,
protecting the terms and conditions of local government workers.

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