Page last updated at 15:02 GMT, Monday, 6 April 2009 16:02 UK

Council workers offered 0.5% rise

School canteen
Dinner ladies could be getting a 0.5% pay rise

Council staff will be offered a 0.5% pay rise this year, the Local Government Association has said.

Sir Steve Bullock, who chairs the LGA pay panel, said the settlement had to be both affordable and ensure people would want to work in local government.

Unions said they were "bitterly disappointed" at the deal for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The announcement comes shortly after it emerged more than 1,000 council bosses earn more than £100,000.

The Retail Price Index, often the inflation measure used to calculate pay deals, is currently 0%.

'Tough times'

MPs are getting a 2.33% pay rise for 2009-10 while senior Whitehall and NHS staff will get 1.5%.

Last year's pay deal for staff including social workers, refuse collectors, teaching assistants and librarians, was increased from 2.45% to 2.75% after it was challenged by the unions.

Sir Steve said the "tough economic times", low inflation rate and pressure on public sector spending and council services mean employers had to make "some tough decisions on pay".

GMB will naturally want to talk to our members about this meagre offer but I honestly can't see any prospect of it being accepted
Brian Strutton
GMB National Secretary

"Councils, like everyone else, have tightened their belts to weather the recession and the extra money awarded by the arbitrators in last year's pay settlement means that councils have had to tighten their belts even further."

He said if the pay settlement was too high then councils would have to lay off staff and said the government had told councils to set wages that would "ensure that pay does not rise above what is affordable and acceptable to local people".

But the deal is likely to be opposed by the main public sector unions - the GMB, Unison and Unite - which represent 1.3m workers. They will meet on Tuesday to discuss their response.

Unison's head of local government Heather Wakefield said: "I am bitterly disappointed and surprised at the offer, we know that most local authorities have budgeted for an increase of between 1.5% and 2%.

"Times are tough, but this offer of 0.5% will make it even harder for local government workers, who are already struggling to make ends meet. "

Unite national officer Peter Allenson accused employers of "trying to take advantage of the economic circumstances" while Brian Strutton, of the GMB, said it was a "pretty sick" offer.

"They are pleading poverty yet those at the top are awarding themselves ever larger salaries," he said.

"GMB will naturally want to talk to our members about this meagre offer but I honestly can't see any prospect of it being accepted."

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