Mark Whitehead 25 July 2019

A pay rise for local government workers?

Local government workers are doing overtime on 'an industrial scale’. Mark Whitehead looks at what unions are doing to address this.

Local government workers are doing overtime on 'an industrial scale’, according to research put forward in a pay claim for council staff.

The three main local government unions this week agreed the submission calling for a 10% pay rise for more than one million council workers.

It says unpaid overtime represents 'an enormous goodwill contribution by a workforce that is approaching its breaking point.'

The package is aimed at a settlement to take effect next April when the current two-year deal ends.

In addition to the !0% rise it calls for a minimum £10 per hour rate, a one day increase in annual leave and a reduction of two hours in the working week.

It says more than half the workforce is made up of part-time employees, many women working regular unpaid overtime, often single parents on low wages and living in low-paid households.

Union members have reported attacks on overtime, allowances, standby payments, annual leave, sick pay and weekend working, while many say their roles have been downgraded through restructuring.

The document to be put to the National Joint Committee which negotiates local government pay says: 'It is clear that there has been a quiet campaign of cutting back on these locally negotiated terms and conditions.

'The decision to allow locally determined allowances under the NJC has led to a “licence to freeze” over the last few years and this needs to end.

'Members have additionally reported the loss of shift allowances worth up to £2,000 a year.

'Members in social work reported a locally determined restructure of shift work that resulted in the removal of unsocial hours payments and an increase in late night shifts and on-call working.'

Jon Richards, head of local government at Unison, the biggest of the three unions, said: 'Council staff have paid a heavy price during the years of austerity, keeping services going when cash was in short supply and hundreds of thousands of their colleagues lost their jobs.

'The Government claims the cuts are behind us, but no new money behind the recent pay announcement for teachers, police officers and the armed forces suggests otherwise.'

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