Heather Wakefield: LGE target on equal pay is ‘complete fantasy’

Unison has said that it is “a complete fantasy” that three-quarters of councils will have completed equal pay job reviews by the end of this month, as targeted by local authority leaders. 

Head of local government Heather Wakefield claimed that the figure was likely to be closer to 50%, despite councils originally being a set a deadline of April 2007 to complete and implement job evaluations.

In January this year, Jon Sutcliffe, principal strategic adviser at the LGE, said that it was a “minimum, legitimate expectation” that three-quarters of councils would have undertaken a review by 1 April 2008.

However, Wakefield said this was a “complete fantasy”, adding: “I would say it’s impossible. The last indications were that only 40% of authorities had carried out evaluations. It might make 50% by 1 April.”

The LGE’s figures differ from Unison’s, showing that 47% of authorities had undertaken a pay review by January 2008, with 35.5% having implemented the results. 

A spokesperson said that there were no further indications as to whether the April 2008 target would bet. The LGE also has no plans to conduct research into local authorities’ progress before a yearly survey planned for November. He added: “It’s an ongoing process and we’ll keep a watching brief. But councils have already got enough on their plate without us asking them to fill in more questionnaires.”

Implementing the single status initiative has proved problematic for a number of councils, some of whom have faced industrial action.There are indications that council workers in Birmingham are still unhappy with proposals to restructure their pay and conditions, despite a recent improved offer from employers.

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