Somerset County Council workers call for Fair Pay

NJC Pay Cake Photo

Somerset County UNISON members will be treated to a slice of cake this lunchtime, Wednesday 21st May, as Somerset County Council staff join UNISON's 600,000 local government members across the country in their campaign for fair pay.

The event, which takes place ahead of the UNISON strike ballot commencing on 23rd May and on the eve of the local and MEP elections, is intended to highlight the crumbling state of local government pay and the disastrous impact the current Government's austerity agenda has had on Somerset’s jobs and services.

UNISON is balloting its members for Industrial Action following the half-baked March pay offer which would see the vast majority of staff receive a pay rise of just 1%. The unions had sought a £1.20 an hour minimum increase to bring the bottom rate of pay in local government to the level of the Living Wage and restore some of the pay lost by higher earners.

Local Government and school support workers have seen their pay eroded by 18% in real terms since the coalition came to power in 2010.  They have endured a three-year pay freeze, and a below inflation 1% rise last year.  The Local Government employers now expect their hard-working staff to stomach yet another real-terms cut in their pay.  The employer’s final offer of just 1% for the majority of workers will mean that council staff’s wages will be worth 20% less than four years ago.  Thousands of low paid local government and school support staff are now struggling to make ends meet.

UNISON Branch Secretary, Belinda Burton, said;

“UNISON believes that paying council and school support staff a decent wage not only benefits our members but is also good for our local economy.  It means more money spent on local goods and services, and helps prevent shops, restaurants and businesses closing.  A pay rise of £1.20 an hour would also pay for itself in more tax and national insurance for the government and less money spent on in-work benefits.  If the country wants decent public services, then councils must pay staff fairly for the crucial jobs that they do.

UNISON, Unite and GMB trade unions have been campaigning for a decent pay rise of at least £1.20 an hour that will begin to help local government wages catch up, and also ensure that all the lowest paid staff receive at least the Living Wage.

From 23rd May UNISON will be balloting its members who are contracted to the National Joint Council pay scales on whether they wish to take strike action.

UNISON is also calling on all politicians seeking election or re-election this Thursday to make a commitment to council staff to do all they can to persuade the Local Government Association to return to dialogue with the trade unions and improve their offer significantly."

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