The 0.5% pay award on the table for local government employees is a “reasonable” offer and unions should accept the deal, a leading public sector body has said.
The offer, made by the Local Government Association (LGA) this week, will be withdrawn by 1 June in favour of a pay freeze if unions do not accept it. And Gillian Hibbard, vice-president of the Public Sector People Managers’ Association (PPMA), urged the LGA to stand its ground and withdraw the figure if unions did not agree – even if this led to a pay freeze.
“In the current economic climate, it is a very reasonable offer and I would urge employers to stand firm on the proviso that it’s only on offer until June,” said Hibberd. “A pay freeze would be acceptable in the current climate, but this is better.”
Unions reacted angrily to the LGA offer, claiming the rise would not help workers struggling to make ends meet. They point out that other public sector workers including teachers, police and NHS staff will receive up to 2.6% this year as part of a multi-year deal.
However, Hibberd insisted the 0.5% was significant enough and would help to protect front-line services and jobs. The president of the PPMA Stephen Moir had previously accepted the need to scale back pay awards, but warned that a zero pay increase would only result in long-term problems with recruiting and retaining talented staff.
Last year’s pay deal for local government workers went through lengthy arbitration with Acas and was only agreed on 3 March 2009 at 2.75% (backdated to April 2008).