Socialist Worker

Single status around Britain

Issue No. 2028

A forum for our anger

What does the present implementation of the single status pay deal – agreed between unions and the government in 1997 – mean for the local government workers affected?

A web board (, created by IT workers in Staffordshire County Council, gives a glimpse of the kind of anger that many workers across Britain must be feeling. Contributions include:

“Someone in our office building is losing £14,000 thanks to JE [job evaluation]!! NOW THAT IS MESSED UP.”

“I’m £6,156 (27 percent) down and feel traumatised… It’s making me bad tempered with family, friends, colleagues, the public and I hate the person I’m turning into.”

“I would support any strike that is called!!! Fair pay for a fair day’s work.”

“I am only at the start of my career, and this has seriously made me consider if staying here and doing this is worth it, especially if I could earn more working at Tesco.”

“I myself have lost 26 percent of my salary… I’m almost 59, have worked hard and long (14 years) for this county working my way up to the position I hold now – but like others I now feel totally undervalued.”

“I am a union member I cannot understand how the unions have got themselves into this position where, effectively, one worker’s pay cut is paying for another worker’s pay rise!!”


Single status was supposed to level up the pay for women workers. Most councils are locked into negotiations with unions at a local level to discuss how the deal is implemented.

But no extra funding has been provided by central government.

The treasury has washed its hands of the matter. So across the country, local government bosses are lashing out at workers, driving down the pay of some to level up the pay of others.

In Scotland there is turmoil. A ballot for strike action in Glasgow city council was due to end this week. Unison union members were enraged when they found that they could not access their branch’s website from council workplaces.

A union spokesperson said, “It appeared as though the city council had blocked the branch website from council computers by creating a false web page using our website address. The correct branch website could be accessed as normal from any home, external or non-council computer.” The council has strenuously denied such allegations. But the claims are a reflection of the bitterness many workers feel.

In Falkirk social work staff are set to ballot for action after the council issued 90-day termination notices in order to impose new contracts on them.

Blackburn with Darwen

About 1,250 workers in Blackburn with Darwen council, Lancashire, face pay cuts.

Local government unions need a national strategy to fight what is rapidly becoming a national assault on pay.

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Article information

Sat 25 Nov 2006, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 2028
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