Socialist Worker

Anger at union leaders after pay ‘betrayal’ in local government

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2430

Unite, Unison and GMB members struck in July

Unite, Unison and GMB members struck in July (Pic: Alan Thomson)

The rotten pay proposal cooked up by leaders of the Unison, GMB and Unite union leaderships has now settled the dispute with local government employers.

Union leaders suspended a strike in England and Wales last month and presented a two-year pay deal to members giving just 94p extra a year per £1,000 earned.

Workers voted to accept the deal after the leadership abstained from putting forward a strategy about how strikes could win.

Instead they told workers they had a “clear choice to accept the proposals or reject and take sustained action”.

Kirklees Unison branch secretary Paul Holmes told Socialist Worker, “Members have been totally confused. 

“The leadership told them we were going to ‘smash the pay freeze’, but then called the strikes off and said we can only get somewhere by having sustained action.”

Local government workers have suffered pay cuts worth almost 20 percent since 2010.

The deal is worth just over 2 percent over two years for the majority of workers.

This is little better than the one year offer of 1 percent they rejected earlier this year.

Where branches made clear recommendations to  reject the offer there were bigger turnouts and overwhelming votes to reject. 

This shows what could have been done nationally.

Doncaster Unison branch secretary Jim Board said, “We were prevented from giving a clear recommendation to reject. And that was played out in the results—a low turnout and a vote in favour of accepting the pay proposals.”

Jim added, “For the union nationally to sell this is an absolute betrayal of the members.”

A growing number of Unison branches have now passed a motion calling for a special recall conference to hold the leadership to account.

Paul said, “This is now the big thing, to decide on the democracy of the union and have a real debate about who leads it.

“People should get along to their branch meetings and say they want a democratic debate about the motion—every branch should take a position on it.”

Workers spoke in a personal capacity.
Download the motion for special conference at


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

Tue 18 Nov 2014, 17:16 GMT
Issue No. 2430
Share this article


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