Social care workers face pay freeze from April

Unions have reacted angrily to the decision by employers to freeze pay for more than a million local government workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2010-11.

Unison, GMB and Unite were told today that Local Government Employers would offer no increase for 1.4m staff from April in order to protect “vital frontline services”.

In a joint statement, the unions said staff would “struggle to afford basic essentials” and the 3% inflation rate would render the freeze a pay cut in real terms.

Brian Strutton, national secretary of GMB, said: “Council workers will be furious about this and I’m appalled at the arrogance of the employers.

“There has been no discussion, no negotiation – just a political decision by Conservative-controlled local government.”

Unison, which represents 350,000 social care workers in the UK, also attacked the decision. Heather Wakefield, head of Unison’s local government branch, said: “Two-thirds of council staff already earn less than £18,000 a year.

“Last year George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, said the Tories would not freeze pay for those earning in this pay bracket. Now the Tory LGA [Local Government Association] is doing just that.”

The unions submitted a claim in October for a 2.5% or £500 pay rise, whichever would have been greater, from 1 April 2010 for local government staff, including care assistants and social workers.

Rejecting the claim, the Local Government Association said the increases would have added 2.8% to the local government pay bill.

Jan Parkinson, managing director of Local Government Employers, said: “The decision not to offer employees an increase in basic pay this year has not been taken lightly.

“Up and down the country councils have already been forced to cut thousands of jobs to balance the books.

“Councils are facing difficult choices this year and have to ask their workforce to recognise the need to keep vital frontline services going and protect jobs wherever they can.”

Strutton said the unions would meet to determine a plan of action.

“I guarantee the mood will be very angry,” he added.

Last year council bosses increased their initial offer of a 0.5% pay rise to 1% after intensive campaigning by unions. The lowest paid staff, earning up to £13,703 a year, were awarded a 1.25% increase.

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