Pay freeze is over as Havant Borough Council agrees to wage increase

Portsmouth council leader condemns Barcelona attack

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MORE than 370 workers are to get a pay increase after the council negotiated a deal with the unions.

And Havant Borough Council has agreed to increase the wages of 15 of the authority’s lowest-paid workers up to the standards of the ‘living wage’ – a figure above the National Minimum Wage that is deemed necessary for families to survive.

But Conservative councillors rejected a bid by the opposition parties for the council to become a ‘living wage employer’.

This would have meant the lowest-paid workers would have their pay increased automatically if it was increased by the Living Wage Foundation – a national body that sets the limits.

The UK living wage is currently £7.85 an hour, compared to the statutory minimum wage of £6.50 for over-21s.

Conservative councillors agreed to meet the higher figure, but did not want to sign up to the national scheme as they wanted pay scales to be determined locally.

The council also agreed to end the pay freeze across the authority and there will be a 1.5 per cent pay increase for 376 staff.

The annual pay rise, to begin at the end of January, will be backdated to last April.

Conservative leader Cllr Mike Cheshire said: ‘We have been stagnant for a while.

‘It’s time that we recognise that and with inflation going up and everything else.

‘We have decided to go down this route and be a fair employer.

‘It’s not just pay, it’s conditions and service that are being reviewed.

‘We are providing the best possible package.’

Regarding why he did want the authority to become a living wage employer, he added: ‘We wanted to ensure the lowest paid workers were properly remunerated but on a fair and free from bias basis that was affordable.

‘We would lose control of the pay and conditions of our lowest paid workers.’

The pay rise will not include the 12 senior managers on the highest salaries at the council.

Warren Park Labour Cllr Beryl Francis, who wanted Havant to join Portsmouth City Council as a living wage employer, said: ‘I am pleased there is a commitment to consider raising the lowest wages, but was hoping that Havant might be nationally recognised as being among those councils which are to the fore in valuing and caring for their employees.’