Council employers have been branded a ‘disgrace’ after they said they would not respond to a union pay claim until after the May 6 elections.
The three main local government unions today called on employers to speed up the pay offer process so council staff did not have to wait months for a wage rise.
In a joint letter to employers, Unison, GMB and Unite, which have submitted a pay claim for a rise of at least 10% for all council and school support employees in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, demanded an explanation for the delay, pointing out that local authorities already knew their budgets for the financial year ahead.
The letter read: ‘After years of falling real pay, staff urgently need a decent increase that begins to reward them fairly for the vital work they do.
'This delay is simply unfair.’
Unison’s head of local government, Jon Richards, said: ‘Councils know their budgets so staff who’ve been through the mill over the past year shouldn’t be left waiting months for a wage rise.
‘A prompt, decent pay rise will boost flagging morale, recognise the efforts of those who continue to give everything to keep communities safe and benefit local economies.’
GMB national secretary, Rehana Azam, added: ‘Key workers who have been working throughout the pandemic, putting themselves in harm’s way, shouldn’t be told they have to wait for pay justice.
'At every step the Government and employers have treated workers as an afterthought.
'It’s not on, it’s time for the Government and employers to prioritise them by giving them a decent pay uplift for all the hard and risky work they’ve been doing.’
Unite national officer Jim Kennedy said the decision to delay represented a ‘blatant lack of respect for a dedicated, loyal workforce’.
He added: ‘It is a disgrace to make the lowest paid workers across the public sector wait three months before these employers condescend even to consider their claim, especially given the efforts made to keep services running through the pandemic.’
A spokesperson for the national employers said: 'We will be consulting councils on the unions’ claim throughout March and will then use the following few weeks after Easter to have political discussions that are necessary ahead of responding to the unions in May.'