Headlines: August 6th, 2002

A strike by council workers planned for 14th August has been called off following a breakthrough in the two day long negotiations at the conciliation service ACAS. Unions and employers will now start a six week process of consulting their membership. A 24 hour strike last month paralysed councils services including schools, leisure centres, libraries and refuse collection services. More than 1.2 million workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are set to benefit from the deal.The employers initially offered a 3% increase and the unions claimed an increase of 6%. The agreement which extends over two years will give council workers a 3% increase from last April or 5 pounds an hour. There will be a further 1% from next October for the lowest paid. In April 2003 pay will increased by 3.5% increase. The lowest paid will receive a further 1% increase.

The main feature of the pay deal is that it gives the greatest benefit to the low paid. Over a quarter of a million people in local government, many of them women, are earn less than 5 pounds an hour. The deal is worth an average increase of 7.8% over two years, but for the lowest paid it will mean a 10.9% increase. A key element of the unions’ campaign was the widening gulf between the pay of top managers in local government and those at the bottom end of pay scales.

The pay of employees of councils has fallen behind both the private sector and other parts of the public sector, particularly the health service. The
agreement provides for the setting up of a commission to look into pay and related issues/