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UK local authority employees' pay offer may lead to country-wide strike action
Employees of 350 local authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, have been offered a pay increase from 1st April 2014 under which the majority of them (those on salaries starting at £14,880 per annum) would receive an uplift of 1%, with those on lower salaries receiving a slightly higher increase. It will affect over 1 million employees and has not gone down well with the trade unions, whose leaders are suggesting that strike action needs to be taken.
If agreed, the total increase to the local government pay bill in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be £164.52m (This pay offer does not apply to council chief executives, senior officers, teachers or firefighters, who are covered by separate national pay arrangements).
The National Joint Council negotiates the pay, terms and conditions of staff in local authorities. It agrees an annual uplift to the national pay spine, on which each individual council decides where to place its employees. Each council takes into account a number of factors such as job size and local labour market conditions when deciding an employee's salary. There are no nationally determined jobs or pay grades in local government, unlike in other parts of the public sector.
Announcing the offer, Cllr Sian Timoney, Chair of the Employers' Side, said:
"There is a broad consensus among councils that there should be a pay offer to staff this year. At a time when local government is tackling the biggest cuts in living memory, this offer balances our commitment to increase the pay of our hardworking employees with the responsibility we have to address the significant financial pressures we face.
"We believe that this is a fair deal for employees, given the limits of what we can afford, and a fair deal for the taxpayers and residents who use and pay for the vital services which local government provides."
In advising its members to reject the offer, the GMB union, which represents local authority workers, said:
"It is time to say 'enough is enough' and we are confident our members want to show their anger and frustration by rejecting the paltry 1% offer and opting instead for industrial action."
The union held a national meeting of shop stewards and workplace representatives on 31st March to consider the 1% pay offer for local government workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Brian Strutton, GMB National Secretary for Public Services, says: "The national meeting of senior lay representatives unanimously agreed to consult our 220,000 members on the offer. The meeting agreed to recommend that members reject this offer and that they be asked if they will support industrial action.
"Council staff have had only a 1% pay rise in the last five years and it is a terrible indictment that the national minimum wage has caught up with them.
"It's scandalous to think that people who work for Councils could not legally be paid any less, yet day in and day out they serve their communities in schools and academies, care homes, emptying bins and cleaning streets, protecting vulnerable children and all the other jobs they do.
"Local Authorities have had their budgets slashed by this government but have also accepted council tax freezes and squirrelled cash away in reserves.
"The net result is that Council staff have had 18% real terms pay cuts and suffered 440,000 job losses.
"GMB believes it is high time to say 'enough is enough' and we are confident our members want to show their anger and frustration by rejecting the paltry 1% offer and opting instead for industrial action."
3rd April 2014