PUBLIC sector workers took their complaints about pay to Dudley’s streets for a protest against cuts.

UNISON members made their point during a demonstration at Coronation Gardens, opposite Dudley Council House, on Tuesday April 1.

The union says nationally more than half-a-million local government workers earned less than £15,000 basic pay in 2011/12 and their pay has fallen in real terms since 2010.

Dudley branch chairperson, Cathy Bayton, said: “Pay bills for local authorities have decreased by 23 per cent in the last two years.

“Far from having no money local authorities increased their reserves by £2.6 billion last year.

“Inflation is predicted to remain at three per cent during 2014 and increase to 3.4 per cent in 2017.

“A pay award below three per cent will be a further pay cut for our members. Average gas and electricity prices are due to rise by 8.2 per cent over the coming year.”

The union is planning to consult its members on industrial action after they were offered a one per cent pay rise which is agreed nationally by local authorities.

The union is demanding a £1 per hour rise to bring lowest-paid staff up to the living wage level, which has been calculated at £7.65 per hour for workers outside London.

Cllr Sian Timoney, chairman of the employers group which represents 350 councils in negotiations, said: "There is a broad consensus among councils that there should be a pay offer to staff this year.

"At a time when local government is tackling the biggest cuts in living memory, this offer balances our commitment to increase the pay of our hardworking employees with the responsibility we have to address the significant financial pressures we face.

"We believe that this is a fair deal for employees, given the limits of what we can afford, and a fair deal for the taxpayers and residents who use and pay for the vital services which local government provides."

This pay offer does not apply to council chief executives, senior officers, teachers or firefighters, who are covered by separate national pay arrangements.