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UNISON is the largest trade union in the country and Plymouth in UNISON branch represents thousands of Health and Local Government workers

The NHS’ heroic sacrifice has never been far from the headlines during the coronavirus pandemic – and rightly so. That’s why we have been campaigning for a decent rise of £2000pa for all health workers in the face of the Government’s insulting 1% non-offer.

But UNISON is also calling for a 10% pay rise for council and school workers – Why do local government workers deserve such a significant pay rise in such difficult times?

The reality is this network of vital local services; a forgotten frontline, have kept the country going too. Care workers, school support staff, refuse collectors, social workers and many more went out to work, day in, day out, while many of us stayed at home. They put themselves in harm’s way, to help the most vulnerable in our communities and keep our most essential services going.

It was school staff (often Plymouth in UNISON members) who looked after the children of NHS staff when the schools were officially closed in the depths of the pandemic; Plymouth Council staff who came and emptied your bins while you were staying at home having a clear out; And many more stepped up to deliver PPE to care homes and other tasks that couldn’t wait. We worked from home where we could and showed up where we were needed.

The reality of council work today is quite different to the stereotype of overpaid and underworked bureaucrats – many local government workers are low paid having been in the front line of austerity cuts for the last 12 years:

–           16% (or 86,188 people) don’t earn £10 an hour – UNISON’s goal for all members.

–           8% (or 41,205 people) don’t even earn the real living wage of £9.50 – the rate the Living Wage Foundation deem enough to live on.

–           A 10% pay rise would mean all council and school workers earn a real living wage.

–           It would also mean further up the scales that recruitment crises in roles like social work would be eased.

The money is there; The Government found

–           £37 billion on an ineffective track and trace (source). The effective work in this area was done by council staff.

–           £849million of taxpayers money to ‘eat out to help out’ (source)

–           £2 billion in covid contracts to Tory donors (source)

And if they need more Amazon paid no tax during 2020, despite making £44 billion in Europe and enjoying a near monopoly retail environment during lockdown (source)

The Government need to properly fund Plymouth City Council just like it needs to properly fund the NHS and LivewellSW so that they can all pay decent wages without cutting services. This is the sort of investment that will find its way back into the local economy instead of the offshore accounts of the super wealthy.

Support your NHS heroes and all your public service heroes.


For further comment contact Kevin Treweeks, Plymouth City Council Lead Rep, Plymouth in UNISON 07584503917