Employers and unions out of tune as talks over 7 per cent pay offer falter

Public sector union Unison says the pay offer from local government
employers has “more strings than the philharmonic” and is warning
that industrial action may go ahead this summer, subject to

A meeting between the employers of the 1.5 million local government
staff and unions stalled after grounds for further negotiations
could not be agreed.

National secretary Heather Wakefield said the employers were
reluctant to improve their pay offer of 7 per cent over three

“It’s absolutely clear that the employers are adopting a tough
stance,” she added.

One of the “strings” to which the union is referring is the plan to
withhold the third year of any pay deal if councils have not
carried out equal pay reviews before then.

Employers have a duty under the Equal Pay Act 1970 to carry out the
reviews and the unions have included it in their pay claim.

But Wakefield warned the review would need funding which “cannot be
found from existing budgets”. Members should not be penalised for
employers’ failures, she said.

Unison claims employers also want to remove premium payments for
overtime and shift working from the national agreement and will
only increase annual leave to 25 days a year in return for a
reduction in sick pay, which Wakefield describes as “an appalling

Peter Allenson, national secretary of the Transport and General
Workers Union, said: “Many of the strings would actually lead to
pay cuts so it’s not surprising there is a mood of anger which
could spill over into industrial action.”

Wakefield agreed that industrial action over the summer could not
be ruled out. “I cannot see a way forward unless the employers
rethink their penny-pinching approach.”

Brian Baldwin, chair of the employers’ side, said they were
disappointed that the unions were avoiding dealing with reforms to
the national pay framework recommended by the Local Government Pay

“Their claim takes no account of affordability and ignores the
pressure local authorities are under to keep council tax levels
low,” he said.

Both sides will meet separately early next month to consider their
next steps.

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