Negotiations over pay are getting underway in the state and local government sectors with unions seeking to protect their members’ purchasing power and focusing on support for the lower paid. While unions agree that the system where the industrial sector sets the trend for pay bargaining is the right one, negotiations in the public sector need to address how pay trends have affected different occupations. This means there are arguments for a flat-rate increase that will benefit the lower paid, including the often undervalued groups like cleaners who have played a key role in coping with the pandemic. More generally, the unions also argue that the negotiations have to address the fact that many of their members have seen working time and overtime increase to maintain services during the pandemic, while those switching to telework have seen a blurring of the separation between work and leisure time.
Support for lower paid to feature in state and municipal negotiations
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Tough bargaining in both the state and municipal sectors have ended up in mediation as employers fail to get close to the unions’ key demands. In the state sector unions were already concerned about the increasing gap between the low and high paid and the prospect of pay increases negotiated mainly at local level were seen as increasing the likelihood that the lower paid would again lose out. Public sector unions support the system where industry settlements set a benchmark and note that last year state workers got 0.5% less than the private sector. However, they also argue that the public
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