Pay talks stop as unions reject 3 per cent offer

Local government pay talks have ground to a halt following
the rejection by unions of a 3 per cent pay offer from local authorities.

Unions are demanding a £1,000 flat rate pay claim, but the
Employers’ Organisation for Local Government (EOfLG) claims that 97 per cent of
councils cannot afford a flat rate increase.

A significant flat rate increase is the only way to improve
recruitment and retention problems in local government, unions believe.

But the EOfLG argues local authorities do not have a
recruitment and retention problem at the bottom end of the pay scale, which the
flat rate is aimed at. 

Adrian Pritchard, co-chairman of Socpo’s pay and employee
relations group, said, “Local government skills shortages are higher up in
councils, such as in the social services, lawyers and in IT, so a flat rate
increase will not help us recruit and retain skilled staff.”

An EOfLG spokesperson said, “A 3 per cent increase will put
the local council minimum wage at £4.64, which is over a pound more than the
national minimum and 50p more than NHS lowest pay.” 

The EOfLG claims that it consulted its members and 75 per
cent of them could not afford more than a 3 per cent pay rise.

Socpo’s Pritchard said, “An increase of 6.4 per cent would
cripple local government and price its staff out of the market.”

Malcolm Wing, Unison’s national secretary, said, “Why should
our members put up with low pay, demanding and often stressful work, when they
can get as much as £8 an hour stacking shelves overnight in a supermarket?”

The EOfLG will consult with members before talks recommence
on 20 March.

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