Local government staff accept Acas pay deal

Local
government staff have accepted Acas’ pay proposal of a £5 minimum wage and 7.7
per cent pay rise over two years.

Unison,
GMB and T&G unions today announced the results of a six-week consultation
process on the pay offer, which offers the lowest paid staff a 10.9 per cent
two-year deal. 

About
750,000 council staff staged a one-day national strike in July to highlight low
pay in local government, a campaign which drew massive public support.

Under
the terms of deal, all directly employed local government workers will receive
a 3 per cent pay rise from 1 April this year (backdated), with a 1 per cent
increase from 1 October and another 1 per cent for the lowest paid. On 1 April,
2003, there will be a 3.5 per cent increase with an additional 1 per cent for
the lowest paid.

From
1 April this year, there will be a new minimum wage of £5 an hour in local
government for the lowest paid, up from £4.80 an hour, while from 1 April 2003,
it will rise to £5.33 an hour.

The
pay deal also involves the setting up of the Local Government Pay Commission,
which will provide an opportunity to tackle the long-term structural problems
which have led to low pay in local government.

The
commission, due to report in September 2003, will produce detailed research and
evidence on the extent of low pay in local government and how it impacts on
staff and service delivery; the precise nature and causes of recruitment and
retention problems; the nature and extent of the gender pay gap in local
government; and comparisons between pay in local government and elsewhere in
the public and private sectors.

The
unions also want the commission to look at the impact of privatisation on pay
and conditions of directly employed staff and new starters.

Unison
head of local government, Heather Wakefield, said: "They [local government
staff] will expect the Government and the employers to be prepared to act upon
the commission’s evidence in the 2004/2005 pay negotiations through investment
in the workforce.

"Our
members continue to deliver and improve local services on low and unequal pay
and unpaid overtime. The commission must signal an end to that."

By Paul Nelson

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