Council staff in pay rise battle

Simon Blackburn

Simon Blackburn

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TOWN hall workers in Blackpool are battling for a pay rise this year, arguing a freeze on their wages has gone on long enough.

Staff have had no increases in their pay for the last three years in a bid to save jobs amid council cuts.

But unions say care workers, librarians, school dinner ladies, teaching assistants, refuse collectors and street cleaners are among employees who have been hit hard by the three year pay clampdown.

They say local government workers have seen their pay fall by 13 per cent in real terms because of the freeze on increases.

Dion Baugh, regional organiser for Unison, said: “We will be putting in a percentage claim on behalf of workers at Blackpool Council, for 2013/14.

“We are also intending to run a living wage campaign.”

There are no figures as yet for what the pay claim would be.

Unite national officer Peter Allenson said: “Council workers have seen their take home pay slashed by 13 per cent since 2009, while household bills have soared.”

Two years ago Blackpool Council was forced to cut £27m from its budget, which led to 750 jobs being lost.

At the time, staff accepted a number of changes including a pay freeze and taking four days unpaid leave, which resulted in savings of more than £2m which helped to protect services and in turn saved 100 jobs.

Last year the council had to cut £10m from its budget, and town hall chiefs are currently predicting they will have to find another £30m in savings over the next three years.

Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn is proposing to set a three-year budget next year for the first time, instead of setting out the usual annual spending plans.