The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 8th August 2014
THREE major unions, GMB Unison and Unite — who together represent more than a million local government workers — have agreed to escalate their dispute over pay with a campaign running into the autumn.
The three unions have agreed that their members will run a co-ordinated strike of their local government and school members in England, Wales and the north of Ireland on Tuesday 14th October.
The strike will be just a few days before the TUC organised national demonstration on 18th October calling for decent pay.
Local government workers have suffered three years of a pay freeze, followed by a below inflation pay deal and have now been offered a paltry one per cent. They have seen their pay reduced in value by 20 per cent since 2010.
This resulted in a one-day strike on 10th July.
No further talks have taken place since that date, despite the unions offering to go to the Government’s arbitration and conciliation service (Acas).
Unite National Officer, Fiona Farmer, said: “Local government workers have had years of real pay cuts, working harder to deliver vital local services while being paid less and struggling to make ends meet. Low paid members unable to afford basic essentials are having to choose between heating and eating.
“On 1st October the National Minimum Wage will overtake local government pay scales, we need Fair Pay not Poverty Pay.”
Unison head of local government, Heather Wakefield, said: “Employers and Government must be left in no doubt that we are serious in this dispute. As sister unions, we stand together to make sure that our members are treated with decency and respect.
“Our members cannot afford to carry on propping up local services through their pay packets. Many are low paid women who are being forced to resort to food banks and payday loan sharks just to survive. We need to put the heart back into local government by paying a living wage.”
GMB national secretary, Brian Strutton, said: “Our members in GMB, Unison and Unite expect us to maximise our joint effectiveness and that’s why we are announcing the next strike together.
“Our members deserve a fair pay deal and we have to fight together to achieve that. Council leaders should reconsider their parsimonious pay offer and do the right thing by their staff.”
Local Government workers taking strike action include care workers, librarians, cleaners, environmental health officers, street cleaners, home carers, parks and recreation workers, teaching assistants and school meals workers and refuse workers.