Socialist Worker

Hundreds of thousands of local government workers prepare for ballot

by Nick Ruff, chair Kirklees Unison branch (pc)
Issue No. 2069

It now looks increasingly likely that the Unison union will be balloting its members in local government for strike action over pay. The ballot is set to start on 3 October.

A special meeting of the union’s service group executive last week supported the decision to ballot by 14 votes to seven.

The decision to ballot for strikes was taken even though our pay offer was increased from 2 percent to 2.475 percent – 3.4 percent for those on the lowest pay point.

That vote must first be ratified by the union’s industrial action committee before any ballot can take place. This was due to meet as Socialist Worker went to press.

All consultation with the members showed that the new offer fell way short of what is required and expected.

This clearly reflects the financial hardship being experienced by our members due to interest rates rising on mortgages and credit card debt, as well as prices.

Workers are being expected to pay for the looming financial crisis. It is because of this that Gordon Brown’s pay freeze for public sector workers must be smashed this year.

The ballot of local government workers in Unison is crucial to this and activists must start campaigning now to ensure its success. If the ballot is successful there will be two days of action between 14 and 20 November.

It is important that, locally and nationally, action is taken to ensure that other workers in dispute, such as post workers and civil service workers, strike at the same time, ensuring the unity needed to beat Brown.

The campaign for action will have to be taken up directly with our members and a national campaign from Unison, like that seen in the recent pensions dispute, will be necessary.

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