Local authority leaders have offered
a new minimum wage of £5 an hour for council workers, on the eve of talks at
Acas between union leaders and employers designed to avert more strikes.
The dispute over pay has already
sparked one national strike, and unions demanding a 6 per cent pay increase for
council workers threaten more action.
More than 1.2 million employees in
England, Wales and Northern Ireland are threatening to strike again on 14
The employers organisation says a
new minimum rate of £5 an hour – up from the present lowest of £4.82 – could be
part of a solution to the dispute.
Employers chairman Brian Baldwin
said: "We are serious about finding a solution to this dispute within the
limits of what we can afford. We can explore a longer-term deal which
guarantees pay rises in 2003 and 2004 as well as this year."
However, Unison said more money will
need to be put on the table.
About 284,000 council workers earn
less than £5 an hour.