Local government workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are being consulted on a 1 percent pay offer. It was made in line with chancellor George Osborne’s public sector pay restraint.
Council workers have already suffered a 16 percent cut in real pay since 2009.
With inflation highest in essentials like housing costs, food and fuel, for many low paid workers the cut in living standards is even higher.
The three main local government unions, Unison, Unite, and GMB, describe the offer as an insult. But none are calling for rejection.
Yet the pressure to fight on pay saw the national body of the biggest union, Unison, come within one vote of calling for a recommendation to reject the offer and ballot for industrial action.
Unison is urging branches to organise consultative ballots ending on 10 June.
Its influential north west region has called for rejection. Activists and branches should follow their lead. Rejection would open up the possibility of coordinated action.
Local government workers in Unison in Scotland have already agreed to ballot for industrial action on a similar offer.
There could also be action from the PCS and teaching unions. One in three local government workers are in schools.
GMB will hold workplace meetings followed by a full membership ballot in the second half of June.