Hundreds of thousands of members of the Unison union in local government are set to be balloted to strike over pay.
The union’s industrial action committee last week voted unanimously to support the ballot. This is a rejection of the latest insulting pay offer from the employers and the government.
It follows previous decisions by the Unison conference and members to reject any offer less than 2.5 percent.
The latest offer, which is 19p per hour for the lowest paid or 2.475 percent for all other workers, is less than half the workers’ claim of 5 percent or £1,000.
For a worker on £12,000 per year the offer amounts to an increase of £297 per year or £5.71 per week before tax.
Hidden within the offer is a threat against terms and conditions such as holiday and sick pay.
The employers are calling for discussions to look at the “total reward package” with “nothing ruled in and nothing ruled out”.
They also used this phrase when they attacked our pensions.
Given the government’s three-year pay freeze of 2 percent for public sector workers this could only be a bartering exercise with losses in terms and conditions to pay for below inflation pay rises.
The last pay settlement resulted in an 8.9 percent pay rise over three years, when inflation totalled 9.3 percent and average earnings rose by 12.4 percent. The pay award was due in April when inflation was 4.5 percent.
The ballot, which is set to begin on 5 October, is a great opportunity for workers to show the employers and the government that they want to be treated with respect. This has to start in the pay packet.
Publicity material is already at the printers calling very strongly for a yes vote.
Branches and workers need to build for a massive yes vote.
They also need to call workplace meetings, inviting postal workers and civil service workers to help build alliances for future joint action.
There are three reasons to vote yes – for a decent pay rise, against threats to terms and conditions and against future pay cuts.
Let’s tell this government to stop patting us on the back when there is a crisis and then stabbing us in the back when it comes to a pay rise.