Council Workers Want 5% Pay Rise

More than 1.5 million local government workers are expected to ask for a 5% pay rise in the new year. Three trade unions are set to begin talks with the Local Government Association (LGA) in January – when the final claim will be submitted.

The unions could be facing a tough battle as Chancellor Gordon Brown has already indicated that he wants a 2% cap on public sector pay rises. The LGA says it wants a viable solution for workers, taxpayers and employers.

BBC labour affairs correspondent Stephen Cape says the unions will argue that the chancellor’s 2% figure is below the rate of inflation. They will ask for a 5% rise or £1,000 – whichever is the greater. They are also expected to argue in favour of a shorter working week and an increase in the minimum hourly rate.

Brian Strutton, national officer for the GMB union, said efficiency gains had been made over the years and it was pay-back time.

Our correspondent says the claim could add another £2bn to the pay bill, and privately union leaders are bracing themselves for a “punch-up” with the employers.

Hundreds of thousands of council workers went on strike earlier this year in a dispute over pensions.