Sunderland council workers set to lobby for better public sector pay

The issue of public sector pay will be raised at a meeting of the full council at Sunderland Civic Centre.
The issue of public sector pay will be raised at a meeting of the full council at Sunderland Civic Centre.

Council staff in Sunderland are to lobby a meeting which will discuss their pay.

Ten Labour members of Sunderland City Council have backed a motion proposed by Barnes Councillor Rebecca Atkinson, calling on the Government to “immediately end” the public sector pay cap.

Those employees who still have jobs are now dealing with increased workloads, as well as shrinking pay.

John Kelly

This week it was announced that the cap on public sector pay rises in England and Wales is to be lifted, with ministers being given “flexibility” to breach the longstanding 1% limit.

The Government has said police officers would get a 1% rise plus a 1% bonus, with prison officers getting a 1.7% rise - both funded from existing budgets.

The motion on council staff in Sunderland will be put to the full council meeting for discussion in the chamber of the Civic Centre at 6pm tomorrow.

Coun Atkinson said: “The public sector pay cap affects so many of our workforce here in Sunderland who have seen their pay held back by the Government in the name of austerity. Public sector workers have seen their pay rise by only 4.4% since 2010 yet the cost of living has risen by 22%.

“Theresa May has continually told the British Public there is no magic money tree to end austerity - yet when the need arises to secure her own tenure of office, with one wave of that non-existent magic money tree wand a £1billion is conjured up to cement a sweetheart deal with the DUP.

“These actions are not right and quite frankly should not be tolerated.

“What myself and my labour colleagues will be calling for is an end to the public sector pay cap and an immediate pay rise for all public sector workers.”

Ahead of the meeting, members of Unite and Unison trade unions plan to rally outside to show their support for the call and will also attend the discussions.

John Kelly, the branch secretary of Sunderland City Council’s Unite members, said: “Local councils up and down the country have lost over 750,000 workers since 2010.

“Those employees who still have jobs are now dealing with increased workloads, as well as shrinking pay.

“As a result of this, there is an obvious impact on local services, which the residents of Sunderland City Council are reliant upon.”

Diane Peacock, branch secretary of Unison’s Sunderland branch, added: “As branch secretary I have seen a massive increase in welfare applications, which is a charity that is unique to Unison, for school uniforms, emergency dental treatment.

“What is worrying these were not low paid staff previously, but are now just 50p from the living wage.

“However not being able to make ends meet and worrying about where the next hot meal for their families is coming from is causing stress at home which affects mental health issues.”

The motion is supported by council leader Paul Watson, Dorothy Trueman and Harry Trueman, Councillor John Kelly, Councillor Linda Williams, Councillor Pat Smith, Councillor Juliana Heron, R Councillor Richard Bell, Councillor Michael Mordey and Councillor Mel Speding.