Headlines: June 8th, 2004

Local government employers and trade unions have agreed to put a provisional pay deal to their constituents. The deal is worth 8.9% over three years. Currently the local government pay bill stands at 14.7 billion pounds for the country’s 1.3 million council workers. The negotiators have produced a package that would benefit both employers and staff.The priority for the employers is to improve the standards of public services and to develop a more flexible economy. They want pay and pay systems to encourage and reward high quality service delivery. A key element is a move away from long service based incremental scales to shorter scales with target points to show employees where they are in relation to others. This would be achieved by combining some service-based increments with competency-based progression. Following the Chancellor’s call for regional pay for public service workers so that the public sector contributes to the increased overall flexibility of the economy as a whole, council pay rates would need to be more locally responsive.

For the unions the package would include training, equal pay, pay reviews. There would be greater investment in the wider front line workforce, with a sustained increase in the amount of training and development offered. Currently council staff receive 1.8 days per year of off-the-job training. The average cost of training in 2003 was 208 pounds per employee. There would also be a move to a more strategic development of training by adopting skills pathways, similar to those used by the NHS. .