Pay rise for Harrogate council workers 'falls well short' of what they deserve during pandemic, say union bosses

Union leaders representing Harrogate Borough Council staff say an offer to increase their pay by 2.75 per cent does not go far enough to recognise their response to the coronavirus crisis.

Friday, 17th April 2020, 2:04 pm
Updated Friday, 17th April 2020, 2:05 pm

The rise from April 1 was offered alongside an additional day of leave - taking the minimum entitlement from 21 to 22 days per year.

But bosses at Harrogate's Unison branch believe the Local Government Association (LGA) offer to hundreds of council workers "falls well short" of what they deserve.

Branch secretary David Houlgate said: "Council workers are working above and beyond their jobs, putting themselves daily at risk from the coronavirus to keep public services working and our country on track.

Sign up to our daily Harrogate Advertiser Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Union leaders say the offer to staff "falls well short" of what they deserve. Pictured is Harrogate Borough Council's civic centre headquarters.

"The government should recognise this and fund a substantial additional increase for these committed workers, who have seen their pay drop in real terms by over 20 per cent in recent years."

The improved increase for council workers was put to unions by the National Joint Council - an LGA body which negotiates pay, terms and conditions for local authorities.

In a statement, the 'National Employers' said it hoped the unions accepted the “final offer” so they could receive a “well-deserved pay rise as soon as practicable."

The employers' original offer of 2 per cent was rejected by the trade unions, who branded the figure "deeply disappointing."

Unions have been campaigning for a 10 per cent pay increase.

Mr Houlgate said: "We are pleased that there has been an increased national pay offer for council staff but we are very disappointed that it falls well short of our claim.

"We note that the employers are calling on the government to fund an additional pay increase on top of the local government offer.

"Unison supports that call and has offered to write jointly with other council unions, together with the employers, to the government, giving them two weeks to respond.

"If, after either the government has responded, or the two weeks are up, UNISON, along with other unions would then seek to finish the negotiating process for this year."

The government says it is supporting councils during the crisis.

Yesterday, the government announced councils will be allowed to defer £2.6billion in business rates payments to central government - while £850m in social care grants would be paid up front this month.

A spokesman for Harrogate Borough Council said: “Being able to defer these payments, which equate to around £8.4million, will allow us to use these funds to provide vital frontline services during this challenging time.”

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter

A message from the Editor

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper.

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspaper.

Thank you