Colchester Council staff deserve full local government pay rise

Hard-up Colchester Council staff should get the same pay rise as everyone else in local government, trade union UNISON says today.

The call comes after UNISON members in schools and councils on nationally agreed NJC conditions voted to accept a flat-rate £1,925 backdated to April. But Colchester negotiates pay locally meaning refuse workers, those running benefit helplines, leisure centre staff and others providing vital services at the council are being expected to settle for less.

Colchester Council staff agreed to a 2.5% rise — 3% for the lowest earners — for 2022/23 in February but since then inflation has run rampant, wiping out the value of that agreement and leaving staff struggling to make ends meet, says UNISON.

The union has asked council chiefs to reopen pay talks but the Lib Dem-Labour coalition says it can’t afford to increase wages.

Firdos Finch, UNISON rep at Colchester Borough Council, said: “Many of us are really struggling to make ends meet after as food and energy prices continue to spiral. With winter coming, it’s going to be even harder to keep our heads above water.

“Rocketing inflation has already prompted the Living Wage Foundation to bring forward its boost to the real living wage and politicians are scrambling for emergency measures through the current crisis.

“The council must reopen talks so that we can get the same pay rise as other local government workers.”