CHANCELLOR Rishi Sunak was accused yesterday by the Unite union of having ‘a selective memory’ when it comes to public sector pay, rewarding some but ignoring hundreds of thousands of others.
Welcoming as ‘a step in the right direction’ the 3.1 per cent pay rise for 900,000 public sector workers, including doctors, teachers and police officers, Unite said that, yet again, council workers seemed to be ‘the forgotten army of public service’, currently being offered a pay rise that amounts to just £1.83p a day.
Unite national officer for local government Jim Kennedy said: ‘What the chancellor has announced for 900,000 public sector employees is a step in the right direction and a recognition of the vital role they have played in the fight against coronavirus.
‘But the chancellor has a selective memory when it comes to finding cash for local government employers to pay their workers a decent pay rise – they are the forgotten army of public service.
‘Council workers – including schools, refuse collection, cemeteries, child protection, and the care of our elderly and vulnerable – have been working throughout the pandemic. They are the glue that keeps services for local communities running on a daily basis through good times and bad.
‘However, currently the employers are offering their staff in England, Wales and Northern Ireland a derisory and insulting £1.83p a day – and this has to be seen in the context of a decade of attacks on pay and conditions that has resulted in a 20 per cent cut in pay in real terms in local government over the last 10 years.
‘We know the public is appreciative and supportive of our frontline workforce. Unfortunately, neither Rishi Sunak nor the local government employers are mirroring public opinion.
‘If the government is serious about “levelling up” society, the chancellor needs to find the money to fund a decent pay rise for council workers.’
Currently, Unite is holding a consultative ballot of its 100,000 council workers to see if they wish to reject or accept the pay and conditions offer for 2020/1 made by the Local Government Employers (LGE) which amounts to just £1.83 a day. The ballot closes on Friday 14 August.
- More than 150 Bexley refuse workers are taking five days of strike action over the continual refusal by outsourcing giant Serco to pay a ‘living’ wage, Unite, announced yesterday.
The dispute, which predates the March lockdown, has ignited again over the refusal of Serco bosses to pay the workers a minimum of £13 an hour, similar to their counterparts in Greenwich. The workers are also angry over a bullying culture.
The five days of strike action are set for 30, 31 July and 3rd, 4th and 6th August, to run from 05.00-09.00 each day.