Socialist Worker

800,000 local government workers prepare for action over low pay

by John McDermott, Unison national executive (pc)
Issue No. 2074

The result of the ballot of over 800,000 local government workers in the Unison union was set to be announced on Friday of this week.

Unison members who provide essential services will have had their say on the pay cut proposed by the government and employers.

An offer of 2.475 percent for most workers is less than the rate of inflation and is less than half the 5 percent pay claim.

For a worker on £14,000 a year this will be a pay rise of £6.66 a week before tax. An inflation based pay rise would be £12 a week.

The ballot is taking place after rank and file pressure on a reluctant Unison leadership.

Some people at a recent national executive meeting were concerned that literature produced to campaign for a yes vote wasn’t strong enough and painted a gloomy picture of the prospect of gaining an increased offer.

The majority of campaigning for a yes vote has been carried out by rank and file activists in workplace meetings. Some branches have produced independent literature.

A benefits adviser said, “What am I supposed to do with my pay rise—buy a bag of carrots?”

A sheltered housing warden said, “I’m sick of it. They use our loyalty to our clients against us. I don’t want to strike but if they don’t offer more I will.”

Some branches have seen an increase in membership. Kirklees branch reports an increase of applications from five a week to 35.

Unison members on passenger transport are also being balloted as the employers have made no offer and youth workers are being consulted with a view to rejecting their 2.475 percent pay offer.

The turnout will be affected by the action that postal workers took fighting their just fight. But a strong yes vote in the ballots will mean it won’t be long before we too will be fighting.

There will be a special meeting of the two national committees responsible for the pay dispute on Monday of next week to discuss the ballot result.

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Article information

Tue 23 Oct 2007, 18:36 BST
Issue No. 2074
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