Following discussions at national joint secretary level we have started to get feedback from the employers about the 2016 pay round for local government services and schools. This follows the claim submitted by the trade unions earlier this year and a series of consultations that the national employers have held with councils around the country.
Although at this stage there is no formal offer or response to our claim it is worth explaining the challenges ahead and some of the early thinking around them. For GMB members working for councils and in schools there has been a long period of pay restraint and although official inflation is relatively low the real cost of living keeps going up and next April, when the pay rise is due, most people will face higher National Insurance charges. From the employers point of view they expect their budgets to continue to be extremely challenging under this government while demands on services are ever greater. However the most pressing issue is the government’s new so-called National Living Wage which from next April will be £7.20 and will rise quickly each year after that. The effect of this will be significant pay increases for the lowest paid and at the same time the severe erosion of differentials with those currently paid more.
The long and the short of it is that councils are saying this will need a renegotiation of the entire pay structure. It is their view that to do this we need to have a two year pay deal 2016-18 to allow time for that renegotiation.
Logically this may make sense from their point of view and it is certainly true that the trade unions have previously called for reform of the national pay structure. However what the employers want and what is in GMB members interests may be completely different things. And crucially if they want a two year deal – what’s in it for us?
I’ve only recently taken over the national negotiating responsibility for local government from Brian Strutton and he and I will be conducting the 2016 pay round together. Talks have only just started and are at an exploratory stage but Brian and I thought it best to give you the earliest possible insight and, as ever, our commitment is to keep you informed and give you, GMB members, the final say on your pay.
National Officer – Public Services Section
Posted: 26th October 2015