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21 June 2012
Low paid local government workers will take their fight for fair pay to council bosses next week (Tuesday 26 June) at one of the year's biggest political conferences.
Around 1,000 leading decision-makers from councils across England and Wales will descend on Birmingham for the 16th annual Local Government Association (LGA) conference. Unite members will be there to drive home the message that 'paying fair, pays off'.
Where: Birmingham International Convention Centre (ICC), Broad Street, Birmingham, B1 2EA
When: 11am, Tuesday, 26 June. Followed by a fringe meeting: from 1.30pm-2.30pm, Unite Transport House, 211 Broad Street, Birmingham, B15 1AY
Unite, Britain's biggest union, which has 100,000 members in local government, is calling for the end of the three-year long pay freeze which has seen workers' pay slashed by an average of 11 per cent in the last year alone.
Unite says with the lowest paid local government workers earning just 22 pence more than the national minimum wage (currently £6.08 an hour) and over half a million earning less than £15,000 a year, the LGA must do more to end the squeeze on workers.
Birmingham city council's recent announcement (8 June) that it plans to pay the living wage (£7.20 or £8.30 in London) to more than 2,500 dinner ladies, cleaners, street sweepers and other low-paid workers is a strong incentive to council chiefs gathered in the city to do better for their workforces.
Plans by the LGA to abolish the three main long standing collective agreements are viewed by Unite as an attack on national collective bargaining, with the ultimate aim of slashing back on workers' hard fought for terms and conditions.
Peter Allenson, Unite national officer for local authorities, said:
"Council chiefs should take a leaf out of the books of Birmingham, Lewisham and Islington councils, and pay their workforces a fair and decent wage.
"Birmingham city council has recognised that paying workers a fair and decent wage reaps long-term economical benefits. This is because for every £1 local government workers earn in wages, they re-spend 52.5p in their local economies."
Mike Robinson, Unite national officer for education, said:
"Three years of pay freezes is too long for any worker to endure, but when the workers are low paid it is doubly hard.
"Local council workers are not the high earners the government would have you believe - 70 per cent earn less than £21,000-a-year. But they are being made to pay a heavy price for an economic crisis not of their making."
Birmingham city council is the latest council to join a pioneering group of councils to recognise that paying workers a decent wage is not only good for workers, but generates other benefits in local communities.