Jan 24 2013
Leaders of hundreds of thousands of council workers have launched a campaign for a rise in pay rates, saying many are forced to claim tax credits and free school meals to make ends meet.
The GMB said it represented 280,000 low-paid local authority workers in England and Wales, adding that it wanted to secure the living wage of £7.45 an hour outside London and £8.55 in the capital, which is well above the national minimum wage of £6.11.
Unions are pressing for a "substantial" pay increase in the coming year to especially help low-paid workers such as home helps, school dinner staff, cleaners and teaching assistants.
The GMB said that 27 councils in England and Wales had already introduced or were committed to a living wage.
National officer Brian Strutton said: "After years of pay freezes, local government is now the lowest paid of any major sector of the economy and for 280,000 frontline public servants to be paid less than a living wage is a disgrace.
"It is also nonsensical that their pay has to be topped up through the benefit system when they could have the dignity of being paid fairly without having to rely on benefit at very little net additional cost to the public purse."
The union said it had the support of the leadership of the Labour Party for a living wage.