Unite which represents tens of thousands of local authority workers, is calling for bold action to be taken to avert a financial crisis from engulfing local authorities after it was revealed that several councils are facing bankruptcy while many more are in severe financial difficulties due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Unite national officer for local government Jim Kennedy said, “The latest warning about the financial crisis facing many councils must be the spur for an ambitious reconstruction plan.
“Local and central government need to come together to work on a programme of reconstruction equivalent in scale and ambition to that of the post-war years,” he added.
“A failure to do so will result in a period of austerity and economic depression not seen since the 1930s.
“A key principle behind such a programme must be a huge move to bring public services in-house. In-house services have consistently been shown to provide better quality, are cheaper, and more able to cope in a crisis such as a pandemic than private providers,” Kennedy went on to say.
“There must also be huge investment in retrofitting council properties to dramatically reduce the UK’s carbon footprint, and a huge increase in training for young people to ensure they possess the skills needed in a post-Covid-19 world.
“It simply must not be forgotten or ignored that council workers have been on the frontline and have performed an amazing job throughout the pandemic. These workers have shown extreme fortitude and flexibility in keeping services operating during the most challenging, difficult and dangerous circumstances they have ever experienced.
“The jobs, pay and conditions of council workers must not in any shape or form be treated as collateral damage in the financial crisis now engulfing councils.”
Unite has launched a #WorthMore campaign which is calling on local government employers to improve this year’s proposed pay rise which is worth on average just £1.83 a day for the lowest paid and follows a decades of below inflation pay rises.
By Barckley Sumner