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LOCAL GOVERNMENT PAY TALKS OPEN

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Pay talks covering Britain's 1.5 million local government workers opened in London today. The employers did not mak...
Pay talks covering Britain's 1.5 million local government workers opened in London today. The employers did not make an offer, but said that any offer above 2% would cause them difficulties.

Keith Sonnet, head of local government for UNISON which represents nearly 900,000 workers covered by the talks, said:

'We are disappointed that the employers did not accept that the pay of local government staff had fallen below the pay of other workers in the economy. We are disappointed that they did not accept that members' living standards should be protected. We are disappointed that they did not accept the need to tackle low pay. And we are disappointed with their statement that anything over 2% would cause them difficulties.

'They failed to accept that that figure would cause our members serious difficulties. It would not meet our basic demands of £4.15 an hour. Nor would it do anything to give our members a decent pay increase to cover ground lost last year or cushion them against inflation.

'We expect them to reconsider our arguments and to make a serious offer when we resume talks.'

The unions are demanding a national minimum wage of £4.15 per hour for all workers. This would benefit 470,000 people who currently earn below that figure.

Both white collar and manual workers are additionally seeking pay increases to compensate for below inflation deals last year and for anticipated increases in the coming year. White collar workers have put a figure of £1,000 on their claim, manual workers are calling for a substantial flat rate increase.

Further talks are planned for 29 January and 15 February. The settlement date is 1 April.

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