Local government unions are due to meet today (Tuesday) to discuss an improved pay deal for more than one million workers in the sector.
Last month, Local Government Employers (LGE) – the negotiating body for employers in the sector – upped its pay offer to unions in a last-ditch attempt to stave off industrial action.
The improved deal offers a 3.4% pay rise to the poorest paid council workers, taking them to £6 an hour for the first time. All other local government staff would see 2.475% added to their pay packets, backdated to 1 April.
Heather Wakefield, head of local government at Unison, said: “This is a welcome breakthrough for the lowest paid, and only came about as a result of very tough negotiations.” However, the unions said the offer remained “disappointing”, with inflation running at 3.8% and councils having exceeded their efficiency targets this year.
LGE said the offer was made on an “exceptional basis” and recognised the contribution staff had made to local government, producing substantial efficiency gains and maintaining high service delivery standards.
Jim Savege, deputy corporate director (HR) at Staffordshire County Council, and lead on pay at the Public Sector People Managers Association, said employers hoped the deal was good enough to avoid strike action.
But doubts persist as to whether the unions will recommend the offer. A motion agreed at Unison’s local government conference in June said that a deal of 2.5% would not be acceptable, “however it was packaged”.