Latest Public Sector News


New national minimum wage ‘disgraceful’ – Unite

The number of local government employees earning the national minimum wage (NMW) has been labelled a “disgrace” by the UK’s largest union Unite. 

From 1 October the NMW has gone up from £6.31 to £6.50 an hour. But Unite, which represents 80,000 members in local authorities, said it was disgraceful that the coalition had allowed wage rates for council workers to drop to the NMW level.  

Fiona Farmer, Unite national officer for local government, said: “Thousands of local government workers from today are now on the minimum wage £6.50 an hour. They will be struggling to pay their household bills. 

“It is a disgrace and a searing indictment that the government has allowed the wages of vital public servants who underpin council services 365 days a year to fall to such levels.” 

Unite told PSE that approximately 5,000 workers, out of its 80,000 members in local authorities, are on NMW. These include care workers, school support staff and cleaners. 

Farmer said that the majority of the affected workforce is made up of women (77%), many of whom work part-time. 

According to the government, the rate rise to £6.50 per hour is the first real-terms cash increase since 2008, and follows the recommendations from the independent Low Pay Commission (LPC) in March this year. 

Business secretary Vince Cable MP said: “The NMW provides a vital safety net for the lowest paid, ensuring they get a fair wage whilst not costing jobs. This year’s rise will mean that they will enjoy the biggest cash increase in their take home pay since the banking crisis, benefiting over one million people in total.” 

The number of employees earning the NMW has reached its highest level since its introduction 15 years ago, a new report published by independent think-tank the Resolution Foundation has found. The study revealed approximately 1.2 million employees currently earn the legal minimum, compared to just over 600,000 when it was first introduced in April 1999. 

Unite, along with the other local government unions, wants a £1-an-hour increase for local government workers. Its members will be taking in industrial action on Tuesday 14 October in support of better pay.  

(Image: c. Unite) 

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment



public sector executive tv

more videos >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the open more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News


Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues t... more >


Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need ... more >

the raven's daily blog

New rules to change the future of Social Value

05/06/2019New rules to change the future of Social Value

The government has announced the introduction of new rules to change the future of social value and make the way housing developers stump up the money for infrastructure both ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this feeling of imminent change than the article James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has penned for us on p28. In it, he highlights... read more >