The construction union UCATT has rejected a pay offer worth 7% over three years for local government building workers.
General secretary George Brumwell said the offer was "derisory and insulting" and attacked employers for failing to raise the levels of pay and training for local authority craft workers.

Brumwell said he had called an urgent meeting with the employers' organisation. He said: "We are in the midst of the UK's biggest skills shortage for many generations and the employers have again failed to recognise that if they want to retain and attract workers into local government then they have to pay appropriate rates and offer valid apprenticeships."

The trade union side of the joint negotiating committee for local authority craft and associated employees submitted a pay and conditions claim for a 7% annual increase in 2004/5 in March.

The weekly rate of pay for a local government carpenter, bricklayer, plasterer or painter is now £240.10, for a plumber £257.09 and for an engineer or electrician £265.41p.

Brumwell said: "I sometimes wonder whether the people who construct and propose such offers have any experience of the real issues. Do they honestly think that the rate of £240 a week for a highly skilled craftworker like a carpenter is going to retain and recruit? I think they need to have a reality check."