Councillors across Britain are to be lobbied to support the introduction of the "living wage" to a million local authority workers - and those who refuse will be "named and shamed."
Unions Unite, Unison and the GMB are represented on a National Joint Council (NJC) which also involves the Local Government Employers group representing local authorities.
On November 5 the unions lodged a claim for a £1-an-hour pay increase to achieve the living wage, which is £7.65 an hour outside London.
The unions say council workers' pay has fallen in real terms by 18 per cent since 2010.
Now they are writing to thousands of councillors explaining the pay claim and urging them to ensure their own local authorities support it at the NJC.
Unions are telling councillors: "Over 1 million NJC workers (two-thirds) earn less than £21,000 a year.
"That's over £5,500 less than annual median earnings in the economy in 2012, and below the coalition's 'low pay' threshold.
"Local government pay is the lowest in the public sector - from top to bottom of the pay spine.
"On top of the decline in basic earnings, local cuts to conditions like unsocial hours payments are hitting pay packets hard."
The unions say council workers face "unprecedented financial hardship because of poverty pay and declining earnings."
"Many of our members can only make ends meet through loans from friends and family, food banks, in-work benefits and welfare support from us, their trade unions," councillors will be told.
"They are continuing to keep local services going with over 450,000 jobs lost and their commitment deserves to be recognised."
The letter calls on councillors to discuss the claim, support it and talk to union representatives and staff about how the pay squeeze is affecting them.
Regional employer consultations on the claim are to be held in the East Midlands on December 6, West Midlands on January 17 and Yorkshire and the Humber on January 23.
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