Unison, GMB and TGWU-Unite are bidding for pay rises of at least 6% for more than one million council workers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland – three times the government’s target.
The three unions agreed a pay claim yesterday of 6% or 50p an hour – whichever is greater – on current wages, which would set a minimum wage of £6.50 across local government, almost £1 an hour above the national minimum wage.
The claim is designed to recoup losses over the past four years, during which pay increases have not kept pace with inflation. However, the government wants all public sector pay deals to be on or around 2% for 2008-9, though local government pay is negotiated between the unions and employer representatives.
Unison’s head of local government, Heather Wakefield, said: “The government’s 2% limit is just not on. It is half the rate of inflation and represents a real pay cut for loyal, hard-working public sector workers, two-thirds of whom are women.”