£1,000 pay rise may cost jobs

Union demands for a £1,000 flat rate salary increase for local council staff could cost jobs if approved, the president of the Society of Chief Personnel Officers, Terry Gorman, has warned.

The demand represents a 6.4 per cent increase on last year’s pay deal and would lift the local government minimum wage by 50p, from £4.61 to £5.11 an hour.

It means that poorer paid workers would receive a larger increase than better-paid staff.

Gorman, who is also assistant chief executive of Personnel and Corporate Services at Nottinghamshire County Council, said, “The flat rate demand would increase local councils’ wage bills dramatically. In election year I can’t see there being an increase in council tax. So I would assume that services would be creamed off and, ultimately, jobs lost.”

Suffolk County Council’s personnel officer, Adrian Pritchard, agreed, “It is difficult to contemplate that level of increase. The grand in the hand is a bridge too far and will cost jobs.”

The unions, including Unison, T&G and GMB, admit that the pay claim is big, but feel it is the time to invest in local government workers’ pay and tackle recruitment and retention issues.

Earnings have risen by 3 per cent a year since 1996.

Unison national secretary and head of local government, Malcolm Wing, said: “A morale-boosting pay increase is the only way to reverse the local government culture of more for less.”

The Employers Organisation for Local Government is consulting its members. Talks with the unions will start next month with the negotiated increase coming into force in April.

By Paul Nelson

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