Local government workers received a huge slap in the face last week when employers offered them a pay rise of just 2.2 percent for 2008.
This is in response to the unions’ claim of 6 percent or 50p per hour.
This should come as no surprise, given the government’s declared intention to cap public sector pay. But it is still difficult to swallow for workers who deliver essential public services up and down the country.
This miserly pay offer is even below Brown’s preferred lower measure of inflation, the CPI, which is currently 2.5 percent.
The offer is a 2 percent pay cut when compared to the more realistic RPI inflation measure.
In cash terms this means the lowest paid workers will receive a rise of 14p per hour or £256 per year. Workers on £20,000 per year, will get 23p per hour or £440 per year.
Consumer groups say that a family of four has faced an annual food price rise of £580 in the last 12 months. On a 2.2 percent pay rise, a worker would have to be earning £35,000 per year in order to just keep pace with food inflation.
With other price rises such as fuel and housing, even the best paid workers are taking a pay cut in real terms.
This offer is completely unacceptable.
No worker in local government will be better off and the lowest paid workers are condemned to further pay misery, not even getting the same 21p per hour rise as workers on the minimum wage.
National committees of the Unison union are meeting over the next two weeks and members need to ensure that their regional reps are aware of their feelings.
Branches need to be calling members meetings as soon as possible to build for action.
We cannot allow the Unison leadership to let the employers and government off the hook, as they did last year.
We should move towards industrial action and look to link up with other public sector workers in struggle.