Council workers reject 'poverty pay' offer

Unite council workers reject ‘insulting £1.83 a day poverty pay’ offer that will now be imposed

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About 100,000 council workers, members of Unite the union, have overwhelmingly rejected in a consultative ballot a pay and conditions offer for 2020/1 which amounts to just £1.83 a day.

But Unite acknowledges the likely scenario is there will now be a de facto imposition of the 2.75 per cent offer made by the Local Government Employers (LGE) on its local authority members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Unite vowed to continue the campaign for an end to poverty pay within local government and will press for local pay deals to address the widespread long hours’ culture endemic across local government.

Unite said its members remain angry that low paid key workers keeping vital local services running – including schools, refuse collection, cemeteries, child protection, and the care of our elderly and vulnerable – during the pandemic are being robbed of a fair pay rise, following a decade of Tory austerity which has seen their pay packets cut by more than 20 per cent in real terms.

Unite national officer for local government Jim Kennedy said, “Unite’s council employees have by a majority of 70 per cent rejected today (August 17) 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.

“The de facto imposition of a 2.75 per cent award equates to just £1.83 a day for the lowest paid public sector workers. It is deeply unsatisfactory and insulting,” he added.

“The Local Government Association and their functionaries should take no pleasure in the imposition of this offer as it shockingly fails to deliver the living wage for the poorest paid workers across the public sector, and continues the reliance on in-work benefits for these heroes of the pandemic.

“The public rightly recognises the crucial role local government workers make in supporting our communities.

“However, the Local Government Employers – the official voice of councillors throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland – have shamefully responded to our dedicated key workers by imposing continued poverty pay, a debilitating long hours’ culture and an abject failure to address the reliance on unpaid overtime,” Kennedy went on to say.

“Unite will continue to be the champion and voice of our local government heroes and will move to submitting local claims to address the long hours, culture.

“Our members are right to reject poverty pay and we will be stepping up the campaign for a fair wage that properly respects the contribution these workers make to our society in delivering services from the cradle-to-the grave.”

By Shaun Noble

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