Pay freeze for 1.6 million council staff

 

Around 1.6 million council workers are to have their pay frozen for a third year in a row, local authority employers announced today.

The "unprecedented" move affects workers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland and was blamed on rising costs and shrinking funding for council services.

Employers said increasing pay would mean more job losses and further cuts to services, but unions said the announcement was a "disgrace".

Local authority leaders were warned they faced the threat of industrial action if they did not agree to take the pay issue to arbitration.

Sarah Messenger, head of workforce at the Local Government Association, said: "This has been a very difficult decision to make but it is the right one for council taxpayers and the workforce as a whole.

"A combination of rising costs and shrinking local government funding means councils were left with little choice. Increasing pay would mean more job losses and cuts to the services people need.

"Today's announcement represents an unprecedented third consecutive year of pay freeze and we recognise the frustration which will be felt by the workforce.

"While the financial outlook for councils is bleak, we are keen to begin discussions with the unions on a package of reform of pay and conditions that may enable us to avoid a fourth year ofpay freeze in 2013."

Brian Strutton, national officer of the GMB, said the union would consult its members over industrial action if employers refused to go to arbitration.

He said: "The politicians who lead local councils are a disgrace to the workforces they employ for offering no pay rise for the third consecutive year while feathering their own nests.

"Council leaders' pay has shot up and councillors vote themselves higher allowances while the carers, dinner ladies, dustmen, social workers, school support staff and all the other council workers serving their communities will have seen their pay fall in real terms by over 15%.

"The Chancellor promised the country in the 2010 budget that low-paid public sector workers would be afforded some protection against the cuts so will he rein in the Conservative-controlled council leaders who have made a mockery of that promise?

"Council workers are the lowest paid in the public sector but are the only ones not to be offered even the minimum £250 the Government guaranteed.

"This three-year pay freeze is not an austerity measure, it is a deliberate political choice by local government politicians who want to win votes by keeping their workforces' pay at poverty levels to fund council tax freezes."

Mr Strutton said today's announcement came as a "shock", adding: "I don't know any other workforce in the economy that has had to bear this and 150,000 job losses and cuts to terms and conditions."

Unison's head of local government, Heather Wakefield, said: "Many local government workers are in work, but in poverty.

"It is a disgrace that pay will be frozen for the third year running, forcing even more into the poverty trap. Many of them will be women working in vital jobs in our local communities, like caring for the elderly, or for young children, or helping the vulnerable.

"Not even the lowest paid in local government will get the £250 increase the Chancellor promised them. They didn't get it last year either.

"Families can no longer cope. This cannot go on - councils do have other choices such as increasing council tax, or using their considerable reserves. The employers must think again, and at the very least come through with the £250 minimum increase for the lowest paid."

Unite national officer Peter Allenson said: "Local government workers are under sustained attack.

"Staff have endured a decade of below inflation pay increases and freezes. Now attacks on pensions, conditions and massive job cuts have heaped misery upon misery.

"It is time that local government employers face the fact that they have a crisis on their hands. Failure to act will push even more workers into poverty and damage local government services.

"Staff need a substantial pay increase this year. Unite will be meeting its activists across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and fully supports its members in any action they are prepared to take for pay justice."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk