Local government pay talks 'stalled' say union

Pay talks covering 1.5 million local government workers stalled today when the employers signalled a reluctance to improve on a 7% “with strings” offer over three years.

Unison National Secretary Heather Wakefield, said: “After three joint secretaries’ meetings, it’s absolutely clear that the employers are adopting a tough stance."

She said that the management side had indicated that the three-year pay offer, which she said had "more strings than the philharmonic," was unlikely to be improved.

Ms Wakefield said the strings included the withholding implementation of the third year of any pay deal if councils have not carried out equal pay reviews before then.

She questioned why union members should be penalised for employers’ failures.

"The employers have a duty under the Equal Pay Act to carry out those reviews," she said. "We are not stopping them, indeed we are trying our best to get them to carry out their obligations. We even included it in the claim. But it needs funding - it cannot be found from existing budgets."

The offer has been criticised over demands to remove premium payments for overtime and shift working from the national agreement - a move which the union said would affect many low paid care workers.

An increase in annual leave to 25 days will be considered if the unions agree to a reduction in sick pay, a proposal branded as "appalling" by Unison.

Ms Wakefield said: “In the wake of the 2002 dispute and the positive report from the Local Government Pay Commission, we would have expected the employers to recognise the link between fair treatment of the workforce and service improvement.

“I cannot see a way forward unless the employers rethink their penny-pinching approach. At this rate we cannot rule out industrial action over the summer.“

It is understood that the trade union side will meet again on May 7 to consider action on the proposals.


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