A WELSH trade union has today (Tuesday) criticised a 1.5 per cent pay offer for thousands of council workers here as insufficient.

UNISON Cymru Wales is calling on the Westminster government to fund a ‘proper’ pay increase which acknowledges the contribution of council staff keeping services running in the pandemic and addresses the reduced earnings for Welsh council workers over the last decade.

Westminster driven spending cuts have meant ten years of pay freezes or low pay awards for Welsh local authority refuse workers, cleaners, carers, highway repair workers, school support staff and many more, says UNISON. 

UNISON understands council employers say they do not have the funds for the type of wage increase they feel staff deserve and the trade union is urging them to join forces to call for more investment. 

The rates of pay and employment conditions of council workers are negotiated at a UK national level (excluding Scotland).

Dominic MacAskill, UNISON Cymru Wales head of local government, said: “Council workers put their welfare on the line everyday during the pandemic to keep services running when everyone else could isolate safely. 

“They showed their mettle and dedication in unprecedented times. 1.5 per cent is insulting and the reaction of council workers to the offer has been extremely negative.

“We are determined to secure a proper and fair pay increase and that’s why UNISON is urging Welsh council employers to campaign jointly for more central government funding.”

Jane Gebbie, UNISON Neath Port Talbot branch secretary, said: Covid has shown all local government workers are essential to society. We cared for the vulnerable, staffed school hubs, kept neighbourhoods clean and delivered many more services to the public.

“Council workers feel patronised by the UK government which won’t back up its public praise with a fair pay rise. I’ve lost count of the times, council employees in care, in schools and elsewhere have told me that the Prime Minister’s clapping does not pay the bills.

“Local government staff have suffered years of austerity and now is the time for the workforce to be properly recognised.”