Socialist Worker

Scottish local government workers set to be balloted over pay

by Duncan Smith
Issue No. 2419

Local government workers in Scotland are set to receive strike ballot papers from Tuesday of next week. The Unison union is balloting over a claim for an extra £1 per hour and consolidation of the living wage.

This is an opportunity to start to reverse years of wage decline. Our wages have fallen by 16 percent in real terms since 2010.

The employers have challenged us all by ignoring the normal bargaining framework and imposing an insulting 1 percent rise.

We’re told there just isn’t enough money to pay us properly.

This is a lie. The Tory government has reduced taxes for the rich and the average salary of top executives increased by 14 percent last year. 

Some argue that a decent pay rise would put jobs at risk, but this isn’t true either.

More than 39,000 council jobs have gone in Scotland since 2007, despite our pay being held down. 

A successful fight over pay can reinvigorate the branches and put us in a better position to resist further job losses.

Unfortunately it is not clear yet what kind of action is being proposed by the union.

It could be some combination of selective action plus a few days when we’re all out.

Rank and file Unison members have to demand the broadest action involving the greatest number.

Only all out action has the impact to really shake the employers and convince them we mean business.

That’s why we should vote yes to strike, and immediately coordinate with local government workers around the rest of Britain and strike on 14 October. 

We need to campaign hard in every workplace to convince people that industrial action can get results.

We need to win the ballot and get the largest yes vote we can.

Duncan Smith is chair of Edinburgh City Unison branch. He writes in a personal capacity

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