DOZENS of Caerphilly council staff members joined thousands of trade union colleagues all over the country yesterday in a protest for better pay.

Members of unions GMB, Unite and Unison protested for a pay increase of £1 an hour. GMB says 510,000 council workers are paid less than the living wage of £7.45 an hour – a rate which will increase in November.

Staff members at Caerphilly council headquarters in Ystrad Mynach gathered at the nearby roundabout to stage their protest at around 1pm. Lunchtime protests also took place outside council buildings and town halls across England and Northern Ireland.

The demonstrations are part of a major campaign, launched in October last year, for a minimum increase of £1 an hour to increase the bottom rate of pay in local government. The local government unions are calling for the same increase to also apply to all pay points above the bottom rate. Politicians from all parties have recently called for action to deal with low pay and are encouraging individual local authorities to pay the living wage.

Unions will find out whether the local government employers (LGE) have accepted or rejected its £1 an hour more pay claim later this month. In the meantime, members are being encouraged to lobby their MPs and local councillors.

Fiona Farmer, Unite national officer, said: “Years of below inflation pay rises, on top of pay freezes, and job cuts have taken its toll on a battle-scarred local government workforce.

“With local government workers spending 52.5p of every pound they earn in their local communities, holding down pay is not only bad for workers, it’s bad for the economy.”

Brian Strutton, GMB national secretary for public services, said: “The result of years of real-terms pay cuts is that a staggering 510,000 council workers are paid less than the living wage. Most are women in part-time jobs. “We are talking about frontline workers who serve our communities day in, day out. They work as street sweepers, social workers, classroom assistants, housing officers, cleaners and dinner ladies.”

A spokesman for Caerphilly council did not wish to comment as the matter is not a “single authority” issue.