Around 1.4 million council workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are facing a pay freeze for the second year running, it was announced today.
With inflation running at 4%, the freeze taking effect from April 1 amounts to a real-terms cut in pay for local government employees. It does not apply to teachers and firefighters, who are covered by separate national pay arrangements.
Unions had asked for a rise of at least £250 a year in 2011, which would have added £265 million - or 1.23% - to the local government pay bill, said employers.
Local Government employers blamed the freeze on swingeing cuts in central Government funding, which they say have left councils with a £6.5 billion shortfall this year.
Jan Parkinson, managing director of Local Government Employers, said: "Hard-working council employees help make local government the most efficient part of the public sector.
"This decision has not been taken lightly. Councils are facing extremely tough choices this year and have to ask their whole workforce to recognise the need to limit spending in all areas."
The GMB union's national secretary for public services, Brian Strutton, said: "GMB members will be sickened by the imposition of another year's pay freeze. These are some of the lowest-paid and hardest-working people - home helps, social workers, school dinner ladies, refuse collectors.
"These 1.5 million council workers had below-inflation pay rises in April 2008 and 2009 and a pay freeze in April 2010.
"With inflation still running high, council workers have now had a 10% real pay cut over the past three years, leaving many of them in poverty."
Mr Strutton said there would now be a meeting of the National Joint Council for Local Government Services, which brings together unions and employers, to discuss the issue of pay.
He said: "On top of huge job losses and attacks on their conditions and pensions, it's abject misery for workers in local government while fat-cat bankers who caused the recession still rake in the bonuses."Reuse content