Council and schools staff deserve a real pay rise

Increased offer of 0.25% is “insignificant”

Staff working for councils and in schools are worth more than the 1.75% pay offer put forward by employers after working through the worst of times.

UNISON, GMB and Unite are urging local government employers to rethink their revised pay offer of a 1.75% pay rise (with 2.75% for those on the bottom pay point) for 2021/22 by awarding an increase that will properly and fairly reward council and school support staff.

The unions say the offer falls well short of the 10% claim they put forward for this year.

Last month, the unions offered to work with the Local Government Association (LGA) on a joint campaign to make the government provide additional funds to finance the wage rise. However, the LGA rejected the move, refusing to put pressure on government to improve pay.

UNISON deputy head of local government Mike Short said: “A 0.25% increase on the initial 1.5% offer is insignificant. Council staff have kept communities clean and safe, protected the most vulnerable, and worked in schools throughout successive lockdowns to allow others to work.

“Their courage and sacrifices need to be rewarded, yet the employers are failing to recognise their efforts. There’ll be a huge impact on morale.

“Employers say they’d like to give council staff more, but they’ve refused to work with us to get the money.

“These workers, mostly women, are amongst the lowest paid in the country and have seen their pay drop substantially in recent years. This 1.75% offer is nowhere near what’s needed. Reps from across England, Wales and Northern Ireland will now decide the next move.”

UNISON Yorkshire and Humberside regional convenor Wendy Nichols said: “It’s beyond belief that local government workers who have run the marathon during the pandemic are being offered 1.75%. They are already over 20% behind in real terms since 2010.

“What makes it worse is that a number of councils have budgeted for a bigger pay rise for their staff in this region.

“One of the saddest things is the number of public sector workers who now have to rely on food banks.”

UNISON Yorkshire and Humberside local government service group chair Leon Kirkham said: “It is very disappointing that employers are still not willing to offer a pay rise anywhere near our 10% claim. They continue to make an offer that is below inflation, so is in fact a pay cut.

“So much for how for much they value their employees, whom they said have given all and gone above and beyond in the last 18 months. Our members need more than kind words and clapping, they need money to put food on their plates.”