LOCAL government workers in South Tyneside are being ‘locked out’ of the economic recovery, it was claimed at a protest rally in the borough yesterday.
Council employees gathered on the steps of South Shields Town Hall at lunchtime to further their claims for a “decent” pay increase.
The call comes after workers were offered a one per cent pay rise.
More than a million public sector workers went on strike in July in support of their claim.
A further day of action is planned by the Unison, Unite and GMB unions on Tuesday, October 14.
Tina Roche, assistant branch secretary of Unison South Tyneside, said: “Today’s action is to keep the pressure on for a negotiated pay settlement within local government.
“We have been offered one per cent and our claim was for a pound an hour and if it came to the living wage it would be £1.20 an hour.
“Our lowest paid members at the moment receive £6.45 an hour and the minimum wage goes up to £6.50 in October, so something has to be done because the lowest paid council workers will be earning under the minimum wage.
“Our protest today is an attempt to get the two parties, the Local Government Association and the unions, back around the table for talks, because at the minute that is not happening. They won’t get back into negotiations with us or go to conciliation with Acas, which we think are the two things that should be happening now to further our pay claim.
“Today’s protest is called ‘Locked Out’ because we feel that as local government workers we are being locked out of the economic recovery. Across England today trade union branches are coming out to take part in some form of protest.
“We need to keep the pressure on for October 14. We want our pay claim to be taken seriously.”
The TUC claims public sector workers are, on average, more than £2,000 worse off under the Government, while 500,000 council employees earn less than the living wage.
Unison said ending the cap on public sector pay would create thousands of jobs and pump millions of pounds into the economy.