Unions representing 1.4 million council and school employees have submitted a pay claim for staff in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to receive a rise of at least £2,000 each.
Unison, the GMB and Unite said only a “significant” rise will help protect council services and enable staff to weather the cost-of-living crisis following a decade of local authority cuts and pay restraint.
The claim, which would apply from April, would see council employees receive either a £2,000 rise at all pay grades or the current rate of RPI inflation (presently 11%), whichever is higher.
The three unions said staff working in local government have seen an average of 27.5% wiped from the value of their pay since 2010.
Council employees – including refuse collectors, library staff, teaching assistants and care workers – deserve better pay and working conditions while providing vital community services, according to the unions.
Unison head of local government Mike Short said: “If the pandemic showed anything, it was that council workers provide invaluable services to keep communities safe. Time and again they went above and beyond to look after people in their area.
“Many staff are struggling to make ends meet and unless they’re paid properly, many will decide to quit for better-paid work elsewhere.”
GMB national secretary Rehana Azam said: “For too long, our local government members have faced real-terms pay cuts. This year, without a significant increase in pay, workers will leave their jobs for higher-paid jobs in other sectors.”
Graham McNab, of Unite, said: “Our local government members have been the bedrock that allowed public services to function smoothly during the pandemic against a background of more than a decade of cuts to local council budgets.
Unions call for inflation-busting pay rise for local government and school staff https://t.co/oNG8h7qusJ
— UNISON – UK's largest union (@unisontheunion) June 6, 2022
“Many of our members are on poverty wages and deserve a large inflation-busting pay rise as they have endured a savage reduction in pay in real terms.”
Sian Timoney, who chairs the National Employers, said: “We will be consulting with councils during June to seek their views which will inform the National Employers’ response to the unions.
“Local government continues to face significant financial challenges, which became more acute during the pandemic, having lost more than £15 billion in government funding since 2010.
“As well as rising inflation, cost of living, energy and fuel prices, the forecast increases to the national living wage also presents a significant cost to local government that will put further pressure on council budgets.”