Council pay offer sparks union anger

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Local Government Employers last week made its expected 2 per cent pay offer to staff across England and Wales for 2007-8, prompting outrage from unions.

The council employers’ body said the offer was in line with the government’s 2 per cent inflation target based on the consumer prices index. However, the actual CPI figure rose to 2.8 per cent last month.

Public sector unions submitted a 5 per cent pay claim last month and point out that the retail prices index inflation measure, which, unlike CPI, includes council tax and mortgage costs, has risen to 4.6 per cent.

LGE has been under pressure from the Treasury, which is keen to keep pay settlements at 2 per cent across much of the public sector.

But public sector unions dismissed the offer as “insulting and demeaning” and effectively a pay cut.

Unison’s head of local government, Heather Wakefield, said: “This is a paltry pay award which will drive down the morale of staff further.”

The unions believe council workers have experienced a fall in their standard of living over the past three years. They argue that between 2004 and 2006 pay in local government rose by only 8.9 per cent, falling behind the rise in average earnings, which grew by 12.4 per cent and RPI inflation, which rose by 9.3 per cent. Unison and fellow unions, TGWU and GMB, rejected the offer as “not good enough to consult on”.

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