Unions reacted with glee as Acas awarded local government workers a pay rise of just 2.75% - the tenth year in a row that local government staff have received a below inflation settlement.
Despite the ACAS offer award being significantly below the official rate of inflation (let alone the real cost of living) and just 0.3% above the employer's offer, UNISON were unable to hide their delight at the end of the dispute. The union's press release stated:
"Unions representing 1.3 million local government workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, have welcomed an ACAS award of an additional 0.3% pay rise, bringing the 2008-9 pay increase to 2.75% on all pay points. An extra £100 had already been agreed for the lowest paid.
UNISON, UNITE and GMB had been involved in a long-standing dispute over pay, including strike action, last year. They had rejected previous offers and referred the dispute to binding arbitration. The award is backdated to 1 April 2008.
In a joint statement, UNISON, Unite and GMB, said: “We welcome the fact that ACAS has accepted our arguments that members should receive a higher pay increase. “ACAS stated that the award is ‘justified and affordable in the context of the claim for the year 2008/2009’."
One disgruntled UNISON member commented "this is unsurprising. By referring the dispute to ACAS UNISON took the decision completely out of the hands of the members who will have no opportunity to vote on whether to accept the deal or not.
"This year the situation is likely to be even worse if workers leave negotiations in the hands of the unions - their pay rise they have requested is only 0.1%!."
Another UNISON member, from the South East of England, added "Once again UNISON has shown how seriously it takes fighting for their members wages. They did everything in their power to stop any action happening, and as soon as it did moved to disarm it when it did happen. We need to be prepared to force the issue in the next round of pay negotiations - we only need to look over the sea at Ireland, where wages have actually been cut to see what the government would love to do to us here. Like usual, it's the people providing front line services who are being asked to pay for someone else's mess. The government will use the current crisis as an excuse to try and keep wages down - we need to turn this around and say no - the rising cost of living means we need more, not less."