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Give 'stressed' staff a pay rise, says Unison

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Union leaders have appealed to local government leaders to give “stressed” staff a pay rise after three years of frozen salaries.

A survey of more than 14,000 Unison members working in local government reveals the vast majority have experienced increased workload and stress levels at the same time as higher expectations from service users and employers.

The research has been published as unions await a response from employers to their claim for a “substantial” pay rise in 2013 to make up for a real terms cut in income following three years of 0% awards.

Unison’s survey found that 60% of members did not feel they were paid fairly for their work.

Most members, 61%, felt it was “very important” for Unison to secure “more pay”. However, as council budget setting leads to renewed announcements of job losses, an even larger proportion - 89% - felt job security was “very important”.

A quarter of respondents also revealed their basic pay levels had dropped, while 37% said car allowances had been reduced and 29% said overtime had been cut.

Heather Wakefield, left, the union’s head of local government, said: “Working in local government is like living in a pressure cooker and eventually the lid will blow off. Workers can’t take any more.

“Multi-billion pound cuts, and 250,000 job losses as calls for services increase, means impossible demands are being placed on stressed out council workers.

“The government has to ease the pressure on councils, allow them to pay staff a rise this year and slow the cuts and closures to give the public the services they need in this hour of need.”

Unison’s survey found that 87% of respondents felt workload and pressure had increased and 70% said staff numbers had decreased.

The majority of union members, 72%, said stress was affecting how well they could do their job, and 70% said stress was also affecting their home life.

The survey found that 82% felt employers had increased their expectations and 61% said the same of service users.

Responding to questions about their financial position, 53% said they had personal debts other than a mortgage and 55% said they owed more than £5,000.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Quite apart from the state of local government workers service users are suffering as a result both indirectly from fewer staff dealing with more clients/issues and of course directly from service cuts all round. More austerity will worsen the effects and disproportionately impact on the poorest and most vulnerable.

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