Socialist Worker

Crucial council talks

Issue No. 2065

Local government employers have agreed to reopen talks with unions over this year’s disputed local government pay offer in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

The meeting between council bosses and the unions, set for Friday of this week, has been described by the Unison union as “the final opportunity for employers to improve the 2 percent offer” before a ballot for strike action.

Unison decided on Monday to continue preparing to ballot its 800,000 members in local government to strike.

Unison leaders will meet on 4 September. The union said, “If an improved offer is not forthcoming, the ballot will go ahead.”

The mood continues to build across the unions for united action against Gordon Brown’s public sector pay cuts.

Brown is trying to impose “increases” of between 1.9 and 2.5 percent on some four million public sector workers.

Heather Wakefield, the Unison head of local government, said, “If we are to move the employers and the government to make a better offer, we need to mount a massive campaign to win a yes vote in an industrial action ballot.

“And then we must make sure that effective sustained action takes place in every council and workplace.”

In a consultative exercise, members of Unison overwhelmingly rejected a 2 percent pay offer. Some 81 percent of members and 95 percent of branches voted no.

Local government activists in the Unison, Unite and the GMB unions need to start organising for the highest possible yes vote for action in any strike ballot.

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