Local government unions have formally rejected the 0.5% pay award for local government employees ahead of the imposed deadline, risking a pay freeze for thousands of workers.
Unison, GMB and Unite yesterday turned down the offer made by the Local Government Association (LGA), claiming the rise would not help workers struggling to make ends meet.
Unison’s head of local government, Heather Wakefield, said: “The offer makes no sense. We know that councils have budgeted for an average 2.25% increase this year, so the 0.5% offer does not reflect what councils themselves believe is affordable. We know that some local authorities are very uncomfortable with it.”
Wakefield added that every other group of public sector workers – and MPs – will receive a pay increase above 2% this year. The 0.5% offer would mean just a 3p an hour increase for low-paid staff. “The recruitment and retention problems in local government will be made much worse by this offer, which comes on top of redundancies and frozen posts last year,” she said.
Earlier this month the LGA threatened to withdraw the award by 1 June in favour of a pay freeze if unions did not accept it.
Gillian Hibbard, vice-president of the Public Sector People Managers' Association had told Personnel Today the offer as "very reasonable" given the current economic climate.
But the unions hit back claiming the rise would do little to help workers.
Now both sides have agreed to hold further meetings to continue negotiations.
The offer covers all grades of workers in local government in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.