The UK’s largest social care union has called on conciliation service Acas to resolve its bitter pay dispute with local government employers.
Unison has made a formal request to Acas in an attempt to resume talks with employers, who are refusing to budge on a commitment to freeze the basic rate of pay for 2010-11.
Some 300,000 social care workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland represented by Unison, Unite and GMB will be affected. The unions submitted a claim for local government pay to rise by 2.5% or £500, whichever was greater, but Local Government Employers refused to offer any increase.
With inflation now standing at 3.7% in the Retail Prices Index, staff now face a real terms pay cut of more than 5%, according to GMB national secretary Brian Strutton.
“Council workers are some of the lowest paid people in the country, with wages starting at just 37p above the new national minimum wage,” he said. “Our members just cannot make ends meet like this.”
Strutton said he was writing to the new local government secretary, Eric Pickles, to ask for his support.
Local Government Employers said in January that offering a national pay increase would “severely compromise” councils’ ability to protect jobs and services.