Local government workers in Ceredigion will be taking part in a 30 minute lunchtime walkout tomorrow (Tuesday 4th February) in order to demonstrate their support for their 2014-15 pay claim. Since 2009 Local Government employees across England and Wales have suffered a 3 year pay freeze and only a 1% rise last year. This has meant that real term incomes and spending power for employees, when taken against inflationary rises across this period, have fallen by 18%. This substantial fall in income over the last few years has meant that workers on all grades have felt the pinch and seen a reduction in their standards of living. The reduction in the spending power of local government workers has knock on effects on the wider economy in Ceredigion given that the Council is one of the largest employers in the County. The fall in the amount of money in the pockets of local government employees means that there is less money available to be spent on local goods and services and in local shops.
Ceredigion Branch Secretary Owain Davies said today “The real term falls in income for Council employees means that our members have personally borne the brunt of the governments ‘austerity’ policies, with cuts to Council budgets being found through our pay packets. We are saying that enough is enough, and that a substantial pay increase is required now in order to reverse this decline and in recognition of the efforts of local government employees in these difficult years.”
To get an idea of how far Local Government pay has fallen over the years it can be compared with the rises in the minimum wage. When the minimum wage was first introduced it was almost £1/hr less than the Councils lowest pay grade, if the minimum wage rises as has been forecast it will soon overtake that grade. Unison believes that all Councils across Britain should be paying their staff at least the recognised Living Wage, and the pay claim of £1 an hour on all scale points would meet that ambition.
Staff rallies have been organised at the Council offices in Penmorfa and Canolfan Rheidol for 1pm on Tuesday the 4th of February, along with other workplaces in the County.
The Unions pay claim has also garnered the support of Welsh politicians with Lesley Griffiths, the Welsh Minister for Local Government and Business, stating recently that “The workforce is at the heart of the delivery of public services in Wales and I recognize the entitlement of employees to receive a decent liveable wage. I encourage employers to fully engage with Trade Unions to achieve a satisfactory agreement in respect of the pay of their employees”