Council social workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will see their pay rise by 2.75% this year after employers reached a deal with two of the three unions.
The pay rise for 2020-21, backdated to April, is above the rate of inflation – currently 1.1 % on the government’s preferred CPI measure, though slightly higher on the unions’ preferred RPI rate – and the biggest granted to council staff in over a decade. However, it falls well short of the 10% claimed by the unions and will only make a small dent in the 21.8% fall in real wages they calculate council social workers have endured since 2009-10.
The pay deal for staff covered by the National Joint Council for Local Government Services agreement, which covers the majority of councils in the three countries, also includes an increase in the minimum level of annual leave for staff with less than five years’ service, from 21 to 22 days.
It was backed by UNISON and GMB but not by Unite, whose members rejected it in a vote; however will be implemented nonetheless because of the backing from the majority of the unionos.
“Council staff have gone above and beyond to keep communities safe and services running over the past few months,” said Jon Richards, head of local government, whose members voted two to one to approve the deal.
“Work will now begin on next year’s claim and employers must work with us to secure additional funding from the government. This is so council workers get the decent, fair reward they deserve.”
However, Unite’s national officer for local government, Jim Kennedy, said: “Unite’s council employees have by a majority of 70 per cent rejected the derisory 2020 pay offer that was made by the Local Government Employers in the midst of the pandemic.
“This was at the very same time local government workers were, quite literally, placing their lives on the line to protect their communities…It is deeply unsatisfactory and insulting.”