Socialist Worker

Local government workers call fresh strike in September

Issue No. 2414

On strike over pay on 10 July

On strike over pay on 10 July (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The next strike in the pay battle with the Tories was announced on Wednesday of last week.

The Unison union has called a second one-day strike for 600,000 local government workers on 30 September—right in the middle of the Tory party conference.

This latest announcement comes after 1.4 million workers across different unions in the public sector struck together on 10 July.

The dispute is over pay, which has gone down on average by 18 percent for workers in the public sector since 2010.

Most have been offered a miserly 1 percent this year after three years of pay freezes and below inflation pay rises under the Tories.

Nick Ruff, Kirklees Unison branch chair spoke to Socialist Worker in a personal capacity.

He said, “I had a stewards meeting today and people are really up that we are still fighting and coming out again.

“Everyone was saying 10 July was great—but we knew one day wasn’t going to be enough.”

The decision was made on Tuesday of last week at the National Joint Council.

This is the key body with the power to decide the course of the dispute.

It passed a motion that also called for further action in October alongside health workers.

Unison is balloting over 300,000 workers in the NHS to walk out for four hours on 13 October (see below).

Massive 

This is the week leading up to what promises to be a massive TUC demonstration on 18 October.

The 30 September strike could also include more Unison members than the 10 July.

This is as the union will also be involving members who work in academy schools in the next phase of the dispute.

They were not previously balloted and were not part of the action on 10 July—though academy staff in some unions were.

Helen Davies, Unison NEC member and branch chair in Barnet (pc), told Socialist Worker, “It’s welcome new strike dates have been called and they shouldn’t be the last. 

“Lots of Unison members want to be out with other workers to make their action hit the Tories as hard as possible. 

“So now we can see an autumn of action against the Tories with different strikes and industrial action and the big TUC march on 18 October.”

Nick said that every activist can go out now to get organised for the next round of action.

“We need to make 30 September the biggest day possible, and then fight to escalate.

“On 10 July people were uplifted by the sense of unity. 

“If we keep up the momentum and pull together with other unions we can beat the Tories’ attacks on our pay.”


After the strikes - how we get organised to win

It is crucial the momentum that has built up around the strikes is not wasted.

The announcement that local government workers will be walking out for a day in the autumn shows that there is a willingness to fight.

And health workers could potentially strike on two dates in October and November (see right).

Unite the Resistance is putting on the Striking Together—Organising to Win event, which will discuss how we can develop the fight against austerity. 

It is set to take place on Saturday 15 November in central London.

Speakers are set to include John McDonnellMP, Mandy Brown, the UCU branch secretary at Lambeth College, and PCS rep and joint chair of Unite the Resistance Jane Aitchison.

Jane said, “Union members felt a real collective strength on 10 July. 

“We are sick of watching bosses get pay rises while we don’t even get inflation proof rises. 

“People want to fight back now for their own fair pay but also for a fairer society that makes foodbank Britain history. 

“My union members are already asking when the next action is. We need to build action that will win.”

There will be debates and workshops happening throughout the day.

Discussions will include how we can build on 10 July and see more—and even bigger—strikes to beat back the Tories. 

There will be talks on the role unions can play in the fight against attacks on the NHS, public services, benefits and the rights of disabled people. 

Register online now and download artwork and model motion for the conference at uniteresist.org

Health workers plan fight

Health workers are set to be balloted on joining the fight over pay.

The Unison and Unite unions and the Royal College of Midwives announced they would be balloting over the pay insult made in March. 

Tories refused to pay workers a promised pay rise.

There will be a ballot in Unison from 28 August to 19 September.

If members return a yes vote then two strike dates have been set for autumn.

Unison has said that workers will strike for four hours each on 13 October and 10 November.

Each will also be followed by a week of action short of strikes

The potential is there for the other health unions to also join Unison on these dates.


If you enjoy Socialist Worker, please consider giving to our annual appeal to make sure we can maintain and develop our online and print versions of Socialist Worker. Go here for details and to donate.

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.