Low paid local government workers are struggling to make ends meet right now - frozen pay, Government cuts and rising inflation have seen to that. This is why it is a kick in the teeth for them to hear that the pay of directors in the UK's top businesses have risen by 50% in the last year alone.
In the face of rocketing pay at the top, it is all the more important that our pay claim for a substantial rise, on behalf of 1.6m council workers, is successful. We need to break through this damaging pay freeze and pull these workers out of poverty.
The Government's claims that we are all in this together are ludicrous. The figures speak for themselves. Incomes Data Services (IDS) have said the average pay for a director of a FTSE 100 company has risen to just short of £2.7m. However, for low paid workers it is a different story.
Council workers, including teaching assistants, carers, social workers, cleaners and dinner ladies, will have suffered two years of frozen pay by April 2012. In the face of record inflation this has effectively led to workers suffering an 11.6% pay cut. The lowest paid have been hit the hardest, as local government employers have failed to honour the Government's promised £250 to those earning below £21,000. While other low paid public service workers have had this flat rate increase, yet again council workers, go without.
At the same time that these workers have had their pay frozen, they are suffering cuts to jobs and services, their terms and conditions are under attack at local level and on top of that, Government ministers plan to change their pensions, to make them pay more, work longer, for less. This is an unparalleled assault on those who are working harder, for less, to maintain vital community services.
Women workers are also being disproportionately affected by the pay freeze and service cuts as a whole. Over the second quarter of 2011 alone, 57,000 jobs were lost in local government, where women make up three quarters of the workforce. Women are bearing the brunt across the whole public sector, especially as so many don't just work in, but also rely more on these vital services.
The evidence in our pay claim clearly shines a spotlight on poverty pay in local government and the struggle council workers are facing to make ends meet. Workers that are also under huge pressure to maintain a quality service in the face of the cuts.
Our 2012/13 claim to the National Joint Council (NJC) for Local Government Services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland must be taken on board. If the yawning wages gap fails to close, whole families will be pushed further into poverty. We need a substantial pay increase to redress the balance, put some money into pockets and help kick start the economy.