‘Warm words rub salt in wounds’

Council workers to ballot over ‘insulting £1.83 a day pay’ offer

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About 100,000 council workers, members of Unite, will take part in a consultative ballot to see if they wish to reject or accept a pay and conditions offer for 2020/1 which amounts to just £1.83 a day.

The Local Government Employers (LGE) offer, made in the midst of the coronavirus crisis in April, has been met with astonishment and disbelief at the lack of respect and regard shown to essential workers who have been supporting our communities throughout the crisis.

Unite’s national local government committee yesterday (June 11) agreed to ballot its members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland from Friday 3 July over the 2.75 per cent pay offer made by the LGE. The ballot closes on Friday 14 August.

Unite members are angry that staff 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 denied 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.

“The pandemic had brought into sharp relief the important, but severely undervalued, role of local authority workers,” commented Unite national officer for local government Jim Kennedy.

“Our national committee has decided that warm words from the employers merely rubs salt into the wounds of a systematic attack on pay and conditions that has seen a 20 per cent cut in pay in real terms over the last 10 years.

“A pay offer of £1.83 a day is a totally unrealistic and insulting offer, especially given the current crisis where it is our frontline local authority workers who have protected our communities and vital services, caring for our young and our vulnerable elderly, collecting our rubbish, cleaning our streets and working in our crematoria to ensure dignity for those who have, sadly, fallen victim to Covid-19.

“We know the public are appreciative and supportive of our frontline workforce. Unfortunately, the local government employers are not mirroring public opinion,” he added.

Kennedy continued, “The employers and central government can no longer keep kicking the can down the road when it comes to fair pay for local authority workers – they need to recognise the new national mood that is in favour of enhanced pay for those in the public sector frontline.

“Our members have said, ‘Enough is enough – we are worth more’. If the local government employers genuinely feel that £1.83 a day is a just value for our essential workforce, then shame on them.”

By Shaun Noble 

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