Three unions representing council employees in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland have rejected a 2% pay offer by local government employers that would affect more than a million local employees.
In the summer of 2019, the trade unions Unison, Unite and GMB submitted a pay claim that would mean the lowest rate for council staff would be £10, while everyone else concerned would receive a 10% wage increase.
On 5 February 2020, the unions turned down an offer of a 2% pay rise from 1 April 2020, made by the Local Government Association, due in part to the figure being lower than projected inflation.
GMB analysis released on 6 February stated that this would effectively result in teaching assistants receiving an average pay cut of £4,000, nursery workers losing £5,900 on average, and refuse collector pay dropping by an average of £4,800 by April 2021, based on the retail prices index (RPI).
Ian Woodland, national officer at Unite, said: “The local government pay offer is deeply disappointing, it does not begin to address the aspirations of our members.
“Following a decade of austerity, during which their pay in real terms has been slashed, local government members will not accept an offer which makes them poorer in real terms.
“Local government unions are now seeking a fresh meeting to allow employers to table a dramatically improved offer.”
Jon Richards, head of local government at Unison, added: “Council staff run vital local services at the heart of communities across the three nations. They’ve done this through thick and thin, as cuts and redundancies have made their jobs even more challenging.”
“It’s high time teaching assistants, care workers, librarians and park keepers were rewarded for their sterling efforts during the difficult decade of austerity.
“The chancellor must give councils the cash in the budget to fund a proper pay rise. Otherwise, experienced staff will be lost as they seek better-paid work elsewhere and there’ll be barely anyone left to deliver local services.”
Rehana Azam, national secretary at GMB, said: “This offer does nothing to address the decade of savage cuts our members have suffered; their wages have been devalued by [22%] over the past  years. It’s a no from GMB.
“This is [Prime Minister Boris] Johnson’s first test on how his government will treat public sector workers and the offer tabled today is woefully short of a proper decent wage. Local government workers are the backbone of our communities; overwhelmingly part-time and female.
“We demand a proper negotiation, in good faith, that restores public sector workers’ confidence that Johnson and his new MPs – many who represent public sector workers – value the vital services they provide. “
The Local Government Association was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.