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Unions table 5% ‘pay justice’ claim for council craftworkers

The GMB and Unite unions have put forward claims for a 5% pay increase for public sector craftworkers.

The deal would see tens of thousands of workers have their hours set at 35 a week, while receiving an additional day’s holiday.

It is aimed at ‘Red Book’ workers, who were not affected by the 2% pay rise offered to public sector employees last week.

The unions claim craftworkers employed by local government have seen their pay rates fall by 20% since the current government took over in 2010.

Rehana Azam, GMB national secretary, said the fall in wages accounted for around £9,000 since the 1% pay rise cap was initially brought in.

“That’s seven years when they’ve faced a daily struggle to pay the bills, feed their families and have enough left for rent,” she commented.

“Our pay claim today goes someway to making up for those years of hurt. Ministers need to put their hands in their pockets to properly reward our dedicated local government workers.”

Unite national officer for local authorities, Kim Kennedy, added that the union had heard that workers were struggling to make ends meet, saying that a pay increase would just be the beginning of a step towards “pay justice.”

The current offer, made last Tuesday, is expected to affect over one million people and gives those on salaries starting at £19,430 a 2% increase in pay on 1 April 2018, with a further 2% rise on 1 April 2019.

However, it does not include certain craftworkers represented by the two unions, although they are employed by local authorities.

Kennedy said the cuts had hit at the centre of the workforce, reducing staff numbers, increasing job insecurity and adding to the workload of those who were still employed by councils.

“Without a dedicated workforce, repairs and improvements will not be undertaken,” she continued.

“This is a totally false economy as when the work is finally completed it will be in far worse state of despair, greatly increasing costs and the time needed to put things right.”

In addition to wage increases, both unions have asked the government to find funding to double tool allowance and ensure tool insurance can be paid to a minimum of £2,000.

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