Council jobs have been put at risk by a joint union decision to refer the local government pay dispute to arbitration service Acas, a senior figure has warned.
Jim Savege, lead on pay for the Public Sector People Managers’ Association, insisted that employers could not afford more than a 2.45% pay rise without cutting back services or jobs.
A coalition of unions including the GMB, Unite and Unison rejected that ‘final’ offer and led protests against it, with up to 600,000 council workers staging a 48-hour walkout in July.
But with the long-running battle deadlocked, the unions last week called in Acas to decide what should be paid.
The unions have demanded a 6% pay rise to help workers cope with soaring food and fuel inflation, but Savege said this would be catastrophic for councils trying to find a balance between helping employees cope with inflation, and balancing the books.
“We believe the balance was in that final offer,” he told Personnel Today. “Any pay rise above 2.45% will result in service reductions or job cuts.”
Savege, who is HR director at Cumbria County Council, added that there were concerns that Acas would focus too much on the pay side of negotiations.
“We are also trying to secure a three-year deal and get an agreement on the modernisation of terms and conditions,” he said.
Union and employer representatives are meeting informally this week to discuss the next stage of the process.