Unison members hold demonstration in Portsmouth to call for more money for lowest paid workers

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UNION members protested outside the Civic Offices in Portsmouth today in a demand for more pay.

Unison is calling for the council to introduce a £1 per hour pay rise across all workers to tackle the problem of low wages.

Unison members handed out leaflets outside the Civic Offices

Unison members handed out leaflets outside the Civic Offices

It says there are 1,014 staff employed by the authority on less than £7.65.

Its pay campaign is in protest to the 18 per cent fall in real term wages since 2010.

It follows the council agreeing to a one per cent pay rise, following three years of pay freezes.

Something the union members say was done to protect jobs, but hasn’t happened.

Unison branch chairman Jon Woods said: ‘We are campaigning for a £1 per hour pay rise for everybody. We are urging members to reject the latest offer and if so many do and they refuse, then it could lead to national strike action in the summer.

‘We are not alone, this kind of thing is happening across health services and education.

‘We were told if we had pay freezes then we would save jobs but we haven’t seen that happen.’

Mr Woods labelled the low wage ‘a false economy’ as many on lower wages are relying ion befiort sto survive.

He added: ‘If they just put more into people’s pay in the first place then the government would get it back through taxation and the economy anyway. It is a no brainer. Britain needs a pay rise.’

Unison branch secretary Lee Sprake was handing out leaflets.

He said: ‘It’s about time we had a pay rise that is not below the rate of inflation.

‘A pay rise of a pound for all will affect those on low wages a little bit more.

‘More people are slipping into poverty and most of those have a working person in the household. £1 more an hour would mean so much to them.

Andy Straker, Unison regional organiser said: ‘Unison strongly believes it is unfair that people providing essential public services do not have a decent standard of living.

‘Making the living wage the bottom rate of pay in local government and giving everyone an earnings boost would not only improve morale, reduce sick leave and let employees know that they are valued after all.

‘It would inject some growth into local economies – and so the UK economy too.’

Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said the council had already agreed to implement the living wage for its lowest paid workers, which exceeds what Unison are asking for.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson added: ‘We are part of the national negotiations for wages. What we are doing is tackling low by introducing the living wage.’