Fears Tesco is tempting council workers to quit and 'go stacking shelves' in Gloucestershire

There are fears council workers are leaving their profession to “stack shelves at Tesco” because they get better pay and the job is less stressful. Gloucestershire councillors have backed calls from unions to pay council and school workers an extra £3,000 or 10 per cent a year.

Forest of Dean District Council agreed last night (April 18) to writer to Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to call for a pay increase. They also call on the Local Government Association to make urgent representations to central government to fund the pay claim by the National Joint Council to present a united front in defence of the local government workforce.

Councillors also voted to encourage all local government workers to consider joining a trade union. And concerns were raised pay levels were so bad workers are leaving to get better paid jobs at supermarkets such as Tesco.

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The lowest pay grade for council staff in Coleford was £21,025, while the highest paid position is £110,000 and the median employee salary was £46,549, according to the authority’s pay policy of 2023/2024. Salaries at Tesco range from an average of £22,895 to £64,106 a year.

Councillor Matt Bishop (L, Cinderford East) who put forward the motion said it was “abundantly evident” the cost of living crisis has impacted people’s finances. He said the council would call for the pay increase and for it to be funded by central government to avoid “bankrupting” councils.

“There’s a balance to get proper pay increases for local government workers without bankrupting councils and schools,” he said. Councillor Dave Wheeler (G, Newland and Sling), a former council employee, said local government officers have had to put up with increases of one or two per cent which is well below the levels of inflation.

He echoed the motion which highlighted the “ever increasing” workloads council officers face as well as job insecurity and increasing attacks from central government and others. “Staff are increasingly leaving the sector for better paid jobs elsewhere, for example in retail,” he said.

“I know people in the councils I’ve worked for who have left to go stacking shelves at Tesco because the remuneration is infinitely better and far less stressful. It is worth saying people in middle management in local government are well below the mean average salary in this country.”

Councillor Bernie O’Neill (Progressive Independents, Ruspidge), a former trade unionist, said he was well aware of problems over pay. “This has had a disproportionate impact on women. With women making up three quarters of the local government workforce. That just strikes a chord.”

He said it was vital that people are members of a trade union. Councillors voted to approve the motion by 27 votes in favour with two abstentions from the Conservative group.