A significant pay rise is essential for local government and school staff, say unions

Claim calls for a wage rise of £3,000 or 10%, whichever is higher

UNISON sign outside UNISON centre in London.

The three local government unions, representing 1.4m council and school employees in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, have called for a significant wage rise as they submitted their annual pay claim today (Thursday).

UNISON, GMB and Unite say a decent pay award is essential as staff continue to struggle with the cost-of-living crisis, while the value of their wages has plummeted for more than a decade.

Unless councils and schools can pay competitive rates, employees will find better-paid, less-stressful work elsewhere and new recruits will be thin on the ground, the unions say.

Their joint pay claim, which would apply from the start of April, is for all council employees to receive a wage rise of £3,000 or 10%, whichever is higher.

Council employees – including refuse collectors, librarians, teaching assistants, care workers, cleaners and catering staff – must be properly rewarded for the vital community services they provide, say the unions.

In their submission to the local government employers, the unions point out that council staff have seen 25% wiped from the value of their pay since 2010.

A wage rise well above inflation is the only way to maintain the staff levels necessary to deliver services to the public, the unions say.

Many council employees have experienced considerable increases in their workloads as a result of budget cuts and their own personal finances have taken a severe hit from the cost-of-living crisis.

Council and school workers are often in low-paid roles, with many earning little more than the minimum wage. Any failure to keep pace with costs can be disastrous for them, the three unions say.

UNISON head of local government Mike Short said: “Communities rely on the services provided by council and school workers. But if staff don’t feel valued and can find better-paid work elsewhere, there’ll be no one to carry out these vital functions.

“Everyone will be worse off if local authorities don’t have enough employees to look after the most vulnerable, give children the education they need and keep neighbourhoods safe.

“A decent pay offer is essential. And with so many councils struggling financially it’s more important than ever that the Westminster government invests properly in the local government and school workforce.”