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'Low value' offer scuppers pay talks

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Hopes for an early local government pay deal to deliver a pay rise and conditions reform in place of a fourth freeze is looking increasingly unlikely.

Unions have rejected the initial ‘low value’ proposal, forcing negotiators on the employers side to seek views on how to proceed from the councils they represent. Unions and employer representatives are to meet again by the end of this month.

Employers had called for talks to begin as soon as possible after the unions submitted a claim in October for a “substantial” pay rise.

The deal being discussed aimed to avoid a fourth year of freeze by agreeing to reform some terms and conditions such as sick pay and mileage allowances. However, this plan does not appear to have materialised.

Brian Strutton, GMB’s national secretary for public services, said: “The offer the employers were prepared to make was of a low value and they were seeking to attach detrimental changes to terms and conditions. We said ‘we can’t put that to our members, we need to know what offer you’re prepared to make without any strings’.”

Mr Strutton refused to comment further on the offer, but LGC understands unions representing local government staff are braced for an increase as low as 0.5%.

As previously reported by LGC, the employers’ negotiators side have said most parties believed the sector could not bear another pay freeze.

However, any pay rise was unlikely to be “significant”, a source said. “The increase would be informed by the government’s 1% limit [on public sector pay increases]”.

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