Council workers, alongside other key workers, have shown during this pandemic which jobs are important, and they are overwhelmingly in the public sector (not exclusively, we don’t forget shop workers, delivery drivers etc). We know the majority of the British public know that and support us. People up and down the country stood on their doorsteps clapping, not for politicians, not for business, not for bankers. They clapped for the NHS, they clapped for care workers, they clapped for all key workers.
If there ever was a time to achieve a decent pay award that reflects the crucial role we play in society, the time is now.
Over the last ten years council workers have suffered a real pay cut of over 20%, whilst seeing workloads and stress increase dramatically. Our pay claim of a minimum wage of £10 per hour and a 10% increase is fully justified. As is the reduction in the working week to 35 hours and an extra days annual leave for all. This 2.75% pay offer from the Local Government Association (representing all councils) fails to address years of below inflation pay increases.
Councils need to demand extra funding from the Government. The Local Government Association has not even approached the government about extra funding for this pay rise. Councils, many of them Labour controlled, need to be stronger. A clear demand for investment in council services has to be made; and that should start with the government fully funding this year’s pay rise. Currently councils are to pay the increase from existing budgets. Despite this many of them have already budgeted for a pay rise of at least 3%.
Boris Johnson has proposed ‘a new deal’ but we know that is empty rhetoric. If this country is to address the economic disparities, increasing public sector pay significantly must be a key element. The mini budget announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak on the 8 July and previous pandemic financial initiatives have spent billions supporting the private sector but support for the local government has been minimal. Gimmicks like half price restaurant meals will mainly benefit the rich who spend more on dining out. The cost at an estimated £500 million would pay for our claim. The bailout to firms based in tax havens at over £5 billion would pay for our claim many times over.
Last month an online UNISON Branch survey resulted in a clear majority to reject the employers offer. We are now asking you to participate in the national consultation process and urge you to vote against the offer.
This will be a mixture of an online ballot and a postal ballot where we do not have email addresses. If you want to get regular information and be consulted by email in the future please send your current email address to email@example.com.
Whatever your views we want a good turnout. So please vote straight away even though the ballot does not close until 5pm Friday 7 August 2020.