Belfast Telegraph

Protests over council workers' pay

Council workers will stage protests across the country tomorrow in support of a claim for a £1 an hour pay rise.

Scores of demonstrations will take place in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with unions warning that following years of real-terms pay cuts, more than half a million local government workers earn below the so-called Living Wage of £7.65 an hour, and £8.80 in London.

Brian Strutton, national officer of the GMB union, said many of those are women in part-time jobs, having to suffer the "indignity" of claiming in-work benefits.

"How can it be that in 21st century Britain, public service workers must rely on state handouts?

"We are talking about frontline workers who serve our communities day in, day out. They work as street sweepers, social workers, classroom assistants, housing officers, cleaners and dinner ladies.

"All will be standing together tomorrow and demanding an answer to this question - why are we made scapegoats for a financial crisis we had nothing to do with?"

Fiona Farmer, Unite national officer, said: "Years of below-inflation pay rises, on top of pay freezes and job cuts, has taken its toll on a battle-scarred local government workforce. George Osborne needs to pay up and spread some of the feelgood factor of his so-called economic recovery.

"Britain's shrinking wages crisis means workers need a pay rise - none more so than the country's million-plus low-paid local government workers who are struggling to make ends meet after an 18% real pay cut since 2010."

Heather Wakefield, national officer of Unison, said: " It is deeply disturbing to hear the continuing stories of local government workers resorting to food banks.

"These workers have suffered an 18% drop in earnings since the Government's austerity measures were introduced, which is why we want the same flat rate increase to be applied to everyone."

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