Third council pay freeze branded ‘a disgrace’

MERV BUTLER ... branded the latest pay freeze "a disgrace".
MERV BUTLER ... branded the latest pay freeze "a disgrace".

THOUSANDS of South Tyneside Council workers are to have their pay frozen for an unprecedented third successive year, it has emerged.

Trade unionists today condemned the action, and called for the matter to be referred for arbitration by Acas, the conciliation service.

Unison said pay had already been slashed by 13 per cent in real terms in the past three years.

And over the last 18 months, hundreds of jobs have been axed at South Tyneside Council as the authority faced up to a huge reduction in Government funding.

Today, Merv Butler, branch secretary of Unison South Tyneside, labelled the pay freeze a ‘disgrace’.

He said: “Not even the lowest paid in local government will get the £250 increase the chancellor promised them – they didn’t get it last year either.

“We are talking about a workforce forced to live below a living wage of £7.20 an hour.

“Given inflation and other pressures, this is effectively a pay cut. It’s very bad news.”

Brian Strutton, of the GMB general union, warned of industrial action, saying the freeze was not an austerity measure but a ‘deliberate political choice’ aimed at keeping council tax down.