Thousands of council workers have suffered an effective pay cut because of wage freezes since the coalition Government came to power, according to a new "town hall poor list".
Unison said a low pay "epidemic" was sweeping local government, leaving workers providing essential services at breaking point.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
A survey of almost 15,000 workers in England and Wales, including catering staff, cleaners, refuse collectors and teaching assistants, showed that the value of their pay had fallen by an average of 16% because of a three-year wage freeze and rising prices.
Two thirds of the local government workforce now earns less than £21,000, well below the average wage, said Unison. A quarter of those polled said their pay had actually been cut, on top of the freeze ordered by the Government.
Unison said a payment of £250 for low earning workers promised by Chancellor George Osborne in 2010 and 2011 had not been paid.
Some councils have asked staff to take unpaid leave, others have cut enhanced pay for working weekends, redundancy pay was being cut, while unsocial hours payments were said to be disappearing.
Heather Wakefield, Unison's head of local government, said: "The low wage epidemic in local government is a disgrace. Family budgets for those on the Town Hall Poor List are at breaking point. They've cut back on spending on their children, holidays are a thing of the past and even food shopping is a struggle.
"We know it's not easy but councils do have other choices; they should stop stuffing money into the pockets of expensive consultants, piling cash into reserves or wasting lots of public money on privatisation.
"A quarter of a million job losses in the sector mean those left behind are working harder than ever to keep local services running. After years of a pay drought, they deserve a decent pay rise this year."
The union is calling for a substantial wage increase for all local government workers and is currently in talks with council employers.
Ten most hated professions in the UK
Pay rise plea for council workers
They might think they're masters of the universe. We know they've dobbed the rest of us in it. After lending out recklessly, they are blamed for causing the financial crisis. Even after they had to be bailed out by taxpayers, they still give themselves obscene bonuses.
Have the power to enter your home and seize your possessions. Debt collectors are a form of bailiff-lite. They can 'only' write, phone or visit your home to talk about the debt. Don't bother bringing out the best china.
Last year's heavy snow meant lost parking revenue, as attendants were stopped from handing out as many tickets as normal. Edinburgh Council lost more than £700k in parking revenue in just two weeks. Expect parking wardens to redouble their efforts as they make up for that in the rest of 2011.
Yes, there are honourable exceptions. There are also reasons why these guys have the reputation they do.
Not as venal as some on the list. But some of these guys would persuade their granny to sell for £50,000 less than her home is really worth. Just so they can get a deal done and take their commission. It's always one story with them when you're selling. Another when you're buying.
Not independent, despite what they claim. Until big changes in the law come into effect in the next couple of years, they are paid on commission. So it's in their interest to stuff clients into whichever products pay them the most - it doesn't matter whether the product is any good or not.
These guys will charge you for yawning. But there's no fighting them. They set up the system and know best how to work it. The ultimate parasites? But then, they earn so much money what do they care what other people think?
It's 6.30pm, the hour when hell gates open for every parent. The phone rings. It turns out to be a gentleman from Bangladesh, selling you phones in indescribably bad English.
Low barriers to entry mean spamming is on the rise. Experts expect 7 trillion spam messages to be sent this year, costing millions in lost productivity and fraud. Internet service providers are among those worst affected. They have been forced to add extra capacity to carry the messages.
An out-of-place figure on your tax return, or big fluctuation from year to year could be enough to prompt a dreaded tax inspection. Since 2009 HM Revenue and Customers have been able to check a wider range of payments than before. Previously they could only look at VAT and employer returns. Now they have the power to inspect income tax, capital gains, PAYE and corporation tax