Scotland

Unions call for end to local authority pay freeze

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Image caption The unions say their lowest paid staff are bearing the brunt of the pay freeze

Unions representing local government workers across Scotland have called for an end to the two-year pay freeze, introduced in 2010/11.

Unison, Unite and the GMB have lodged their annual pay claim, saying a "living wage" of £7.20 an hour should be brought in.

They have also asked for a £1,000 flat rate payment for workers, aimed at benefiting those on the lowest incomes.

Local authority body Cosla said the issue of pay was settled until 2013.

Dougie Black, of Unison, said those who were the lowest paid in Scotland's councils had been hit the hardest as the cost of living rose.

He said: "Families are already struggling to make ends meet and if their pay is frozen for a second year and costs remain high, whole families will be pushed further into poverty."

Mr Black said a promised £250 payment by the government to "soften the blow" of a pay freeze for the lowest paid had been denied to local government workers.

He added: "While other low-paid public service workers have had this flat rate increase, yet again council workers go without."

'Bottom line'

Jackson Cullinane, from Unite, said: "The pay claim lodged today is fair and affordable and will make a big difference to low paid workers who have been bearing the brunt of government cuts for too long."

Eleven councils already pay their staff the living wage of £7.20 and six councils have now confirmed they will pay it from April this year, while another two have indicated their intention to introduce the measure.

However, a spokesman for Cosla said that while the employers organisation was "appreciative" that local government workers has acted with "restraint" in pursuing pay awards, he said councils were still facing the prospect of delivering services in difficult economic times.

He added: "The bottom line is that pay in local government across all of the workforce is settled until April 2013.

"We acknowledge the financial pressures this has created. The majority of councils have responded by introducing the Living Wage of £7.20 an hour benefiting those at the lower end of the pay scales.

"Additionally, about one third of the workforce will have benefited from pay increments as they move up pay scales, where this applies."

The spokesman said that talks with the trade unions were planned to begin this week to examine the prospect of ending the current freeze on pay from April 2013 onwards.

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