Council staff made a direct plea to East of England local authority bosses today to boost funding and pay.
Staff from across the region took part in a UNISON video shown to council chiefs attending the virtual East of England Local Government Roadshow.
The workers explain that they have been keeping communities safe and clean, caring for the sick and vulnerable, and keeping schools open throughout the pandemic, earning them the title “unsung heroes.”
But despite keeping the country going, their pay is 25% lower in real terms than 10 years ago. During that time funding cuts have left fewer and fewer staff doing more and more work, leading to high levels of stress and depression, they explain.
They point out that proper wages for local government workers would not just put money in their pockets but also lead to more spending on high streets and less government welfare spending.
Recent TUC research suggests holding down key worker wages will deal a £165m blow to the East of England’s economy.
UNISON Eastern head of local government Sam Leigh said: “Local government staff have shown an awe-inspiring commitment to their communities over the last year, keeping vital services running through the darkest days of the pandemic.
“And this is after bearing the brunt of a decade of austerity that has left many struggling to make ends meet.
“A year ago, government ministers promised to do ‘whatever is necessary’ to support local authorities through the pandemic. Staff now need them to keep that promise.
“Everyone – from council staff, to council bosses, to the public who rely on council services – has an interest in getting local authorities back on their feet. We must all work together to make sure they get the funding they need.”