COUNCIL workers deserve a pay rise of up to 6.5 per cent this year, unions say. A joint pay claim calls on local authorities to give all staff a flat rate increase of £1500 or 6.5 per cent, whichever is greater.

Unison, Unite and GMB unions say this would protect public-sector staff from a predicted inflation rate of 3.3 per cent and partly undo “real terms” losses incurred over the past 10 years.

Johanna Baxter, head of local government bargaining for Unison Scotland, said the claim, submitted to local government body Cosla, is “realistic and in line with the Government’s stated objective of lifting the pay cap for public-sector workers”.

The Scottish Government ann- ounced last month that it was to end the one per cent public-sector pay cap, four years after it was introduced.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay’s Budget included a commitment to give all those earning up to £30,000 a three per cent rise, with two per cent going to staff earning between £30,000 and £80,000, and capped at £1600 for higher earners.

Baxter said: “Our local government workers members have suffered a real-terms loss in pay over the past 10 years of some 15 per cent.

“It is only right, therefore, that this year’s pay settlement must protect workers from the sharp rise in inflation, start to reverse the many years of real-terms cuts to wages through pay restoration, and protect the lowest paid.

“It is untenable for the Scottish Government to starve local author- ities of funding when it has received a £188 million cash increase in its budget from Westminster.

“Austerity has meant £1.4 billion of efficiency savings in Scottish local government since 2012 and 30,000 people have lost their jobs in Scottish local government over the last five years. The remaining staff are expected to do more for less.

“This is understandably having an impact on staff morale and job security. The key to the future of local government lies with the dedicated staff who provide the services to our communities.

“This must be recognised and staff rewarded properly through this pay round and in the future in redressing the balance of earnings against the cost of living.”

The union’s claim, submitted at a meeting yesterday, covers the year from April 1.

Cosla resources spokeswoman Councillor Gail Macgregor said: “We will take the claim away and consider it carefully, obviously taking full cognisance that, as employers, our pay awards have to be both sustainable and affordable.”

One council worker told The National she was “not optimistic” about the claim’s chances of success, saying: “I’d be very surprised if this happened.

“We need a decent pay rise, but I don’t think we’ll get one.”