Thomas Bridge 01 October 2014

Council chiefs told to revise pay offer, as strike looms large

Local government leaders have been urged to 'reconsider' current pay proposals ahead of national strikes by council employees and school support staff.

The Local Government Association (LGA) last week branded the rejection of a 2.2% pay rise by trade union Unison as 'disappointing'.

However the union has now responded with a letter to the LGA's head of workforce Sarah Messanger, which argues the long-term proposal for a higher percentage increase to wages from 1 January to 31 March 2016 would not 'begin to tackle the hardship facing all of our members'.

Unison's head of local government Heather Wakefield added the union needed 'more certainty' over the LGA's offer, which had not been signed off on by councils.

Millions of town hall staff in Unison, Unite and GMB are poised to strike for the second time on 14 October over pay. The LGA's most recent offer had been conditional on the industrial action being called off.

After examining the offer from council chiefs, Wakefield said there were 'difficult issues facing Unison's members and leadership in considering proposals which appear to be aimed at dividing the workforce. I do not believe this would be helpful for any of us'.

Thought to be central to the union's rejection of the proposals was 'the lack of a formal proposal not yet agreed by employers'. Wakefield added 'the other key element of concern was that the majority of Unison members would get less than 1%' this year.

The LGA's Messanger last week said the rejection of a renewed pay offer was 'enormously frustrating' and highlighted 'the failure of Unison's national leadership and activists to approach national negotiations in a strategic way with a view to the medium and longer-term'.

'They have, we believe, done a great disservice to the overwhelming majority of their ordinary members by not allowing them to make up their own minds on the details of the revised pay proposal and consult their memberships,' she added.

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