Monday, 15 March 2010

UNISON Mother's Day appeal to local government employers to end pay freeze

Last Friday UNISON delivered a giant Mother’s Day card to the local government employers, calling on them to end the pay freeze for council staff. The Mother’s Day message is delivered on behalf of 1.6 million local government workers, 75% of whom are women. More than two-thirds earn less than £18,000, so a pay freeze will leave them struggling to make ends meet.

Recent research by the TUC and Fawcett Society showed that women are bearing the brunt of the recession, as the most likely people to work in, and make use of, public services. Many women with families to support are being hit by heavy job losses in the public sector, plus cuts to services they rely on, such as nurseries, play schemes and care services for elderly parents.

Heather Wakefield, UNISON Head of Local Government, said:

    “It’s nowhere near a bed of roses for mums working in local government this year. Council staff are already some of the lowest paid workers in the public sector. They are facing the grim prospect of a pay freeze from April, just as inflation is on the up. Many are worried about losing their jobs, whilst working harder than ever, covering vacant posts, to keep services running.

    A pay freeze is a political choice, not a necessity. Councils have billions stashed away in reserves. Government grants are above inflation. Many Tory councils are choosing to keep council tax low – making little difference to weekly family budgets. There is money available to pay staff fairly. But some councils are using the recession as a smokescreen to cut jobs and services.

    Women in local government work in caring, cleaning, educational roles, as social workers helping families through tough times. They have supported people through the recession. They deserve to be treated fairly, not hit with a pay freeze. The local government employers need to think again about their damaging plans.”

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