COUNTY councillors rejected the opportunity to urge the Government to give workers in schools and council workers a pay rise.

Speaking at a full meeting of Oxfordshire County Council on Tuesday, Labour Party group leader, Liz Brighouse, said she wanted to back trade unions’ call that pay is increased – but her fellow councillors voted her down.

The majority of workers employed by the county council working in local government services and schools have their pay determined by the National Joint Council (NJC).

Mrs Brighouse, who represents the Churchill and Lye Valley ward, said those workers have seen their pay drop 21 per cent in real terms since 2010 and that increases of just one per cent have been implemented since 2012.

Trade unions UNISON, GMB and Unite have all said that public sector pay restraint should end and that NJC-determined pay should not fall behind other parts of the public sector.

She said those workers’ salaries have gone from the ‘highest paid in terms of people in different sectors’ to some of the poorest paid.

She said: “Our officers are seeing their wages drop and drop and drop"

But Deddington Conservative councillor Arash Fatemian said the motion was using council workers as ‘political footballs’.

He said: “This motion clear does a disservice to these officers by using them as a political football to score points.

"I cannot support this motion.

“I don’t think it’s the place of this council to play political football as the motion itself does or to be the mouthpiece of trade unions.”

He said the motion had not taken into account how important the increase of standard personal allowance to £11,500 had been.

This means workers now do not pay any income tax on the first £11,500 they earn.

Mrs Brighouse called for the Government to provide more money to councils to fund a ‘decent pay rise’ for NJC employees and a pay review.

In an impassioned plea to councillors, she said one-in-10 council workers were claiming working tax credit and that a pay rise was critical to families across the county.

She said the council should write two letters – the first to make ‘urgent representation to Government’ to ask for more money for the workers concerned and the second to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor to ask them to fund increased pay.

Just before the motion was voted on, she said: “If writing two letters is beyond us then God help us and God help local government.”

Lib Dem councillor for Abingdon South, Neil Fawcett, acknowledged that while he is ‘not on the breadline’, some public sector workers are ‘feeling the pinch’.

He said the council ‘had a responsibility’ to back Mrs Brighouse’s motion and write to the Government.

But the council voted 31 to 27 against backing the motion.