UNISON General Secretary, Christina McAnea wrote to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, ahead of crucial talks with local government employers over the 2021/22 pay offer. She said that the Prime Minister must intervene to ensure that funding is made available to ensure local government and school support staff get the pay rise they deserve.
She said: “Workers such as refuse collectors, social workers, teaching assistants and street cleaners have gone above and beyond during the pandemic. They went to work, so that others could stay home.
“They are not well-paid and 25% has been wiped from the value of their pay since 2010. The majority are low-paid women who have been the backbone of our country throughout the pandemic. So it is indefensible that they should now be offered a real-terms pay cut.
“Local government workers deserve a pay rise and this must be funded from central government as councils’ resources are already tight.”
Dear Prime Minister,
Local government workers have been offered a 1.5% pay increase. With inflation standing at 3.9%, this amounts to a pay cut.
Our local government workers keep communities safe, children educated and our most vulnerable cared for. Just like our NHS workers, people working in councils, schools and in the community, have put themselves in harm’s way to fight COVID-19 and to keep essential services going. They went to work, so that others could stay home.
They are not well-paid. Sixteen percent don’t even earn £10 an hour, while 25% has been wiped from the value of their pay since 2010. Most – three-quarters – are women. Low-paid women have been the backbone of our country throughout the pandemic. So it is indefensible that they should now be offered a real terms pay cut.
While the pandemic has led to massive increases in local government expenditure and loss of income, and with shortfalls in council bank balances, all eyes are on you, as the Prime Minister, because fair pay must be funded via central government.
Local government workers should be getting a fair pay rise. Not only because they deserve it, but because local vital services are only resilient with a valued and fairly rewarded workforce.
Plus, extra money in the pockets of care workers, school caterers, cleaners, refuse collectors, housing officers, crematorium workers and all their local government colleagues would be spent on every local high street. Not to mention increased tax revenue and reduced expenditure on benefits from the public purse.
Tomorrow (Tuesday 27th July), local government employers will meet with trade unions representing our hundreds of thousands of council and school workers. Prime Minister, will you ensure the money is made available to fund fair pay for the people that you, I, and the whole country have relied on?
Christina McAnea, General Secretary
Local government employers declined to join with us to lobby the Prime Minister to fund a decent pay rise for our members, and when the employers met on 27 July they came back with a revised offer of just 0.25% more – only 1.75%. UNISON has described this revised offer as “insignificant” and is meeting on 28 July to consider our response.