The prospect of a pay strike by more than a million public sector workers on Thursday 10 July has the Tories rattled.
Ministers are being summoned to a crisis meeting to deal with the massive impact on local services across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Council workers in the Unison union in Ealing, west London, explained to Socialist Worker the importance of the strike. “The price of everything is going up but my wages don’t,” said school worker, Jackie.
“We’re getting a pay cut. Workers fought for the right to strike, and we’re right to do it now.”
Rahul works with people on benefits. “Every day we see more and more people coming in looking for help,” he said.
“Job cuts are just putting extra pressure on to us. We can’t go on like this.”
Rahul has already voted Yes to strike and expects everyone he works with to do the same. A ballot of 600,000 Unison members ends on 23 June and the GMB and Unite unions will ballot another 300,000 local government workers this month.
The unions demand a pay rise of at least £1 an hour. Council bosses’ miserly offer of just 1 percent would leave many workers barely above the minimum wage.
More than 300,000 teachers in the NUT union are also set to join the 10 July strike. It would mean teachers and support staff striking together and shutting more schools. For teachers, this will build on the NUT’s strike on 26 March.
The PCS civil service workers’ union is consulting 250,000 members for a mandate to join the 10 July strike too. And officials in the firefighters’ FBU union agreed to call more strikes if nothing comes of talks with the government.
The potential for joint action is growing, but first there are ballots to be won. Union activists are fighting for the biggest possible votes for action.
“We’ve held big meetings in most workplaces now, and we’re working with the other local government unions to prepare for the joint action,” Kirklees Unison branch chair Nick Ruff told Socialist Worker.
“There is clearly a feeling that people want more than just a one?day strike.
“Talk of another two days in September has had a positive impact among people looking for more of a strategy that can hit back against the employers.”
Ealing Unison rep James Conlon agreed. “The more people feel that this is for real, the more likely they are to support striking,” he said. There is just over a month to build up momentum.
A teachers’ lobby of parliament on Tuesday of next week and the national People’s Assembly demonstration on 21 June can feed into a powerful strike that can hit the Tories hard.