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Local Government Pay Talks 2016

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

GMB Welcome Living Wage At Northumberland Council As Nationally Employers Look To New Two Year Deal To Introduce National Living Wage In Local Government

£9 per hour national living wage will impact on pay talks on the national agreement for April 2016 for 1.5 million workers in local councils and schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland says GMB.

GMB, the union for public sector workers welcomed the introduction in Northumberland of a living wage of £7.85 per hour will result in pay increases for approximately 1,400 county council and school staff. Staff below this figure will now receive an increase of between 41p and 79p an hour. The figure will be reviewed on an annual basis by the council.

The Living Wage Foundation figures of £7.85 per hour and £9.20 per hour in London for a living wage are due to be reviewed in November 2015.

In the July 2015 budget the Chancellor announced the introduction of a new compulsory National Living Wage for working people aged 25 and over, starting in April 2016 at £7.20 an hour and reaching £9 an hour by 2020. It was also announced that the Low Pay Commission to recommend future rises in National Living Wage to reach 60% of median earnings by 2020.

Kevin Young, GMB Regional Officer, said “A working group was set up by the council two years ago to plan the introduction of a living wage to county council employees.

GMB welcome the council being true to the commitment set out during budget announcements earlier in the year. Now, no employee of Northumberland County Council will be paid less than £7.85 per hour.”

Justin Bowden, GMB National Officer for local government workers, added “We have started to get feedback from the employers about the 2016 pay round for the national agreement covering 1.5 million workers in local government and schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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.

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 to £9.  This will impact on pay talks for the national agreement as 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.

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 different things.  There are some hard headed negotiations to come.”

End

Contact: Kevin Young 07870 176 747 or 0191 233 3930 or Justin Bowden 07710 631351 or GMB press office 07974 251 823 or 07921 289880

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