Socialist Worker

No to rotten pay deal in local government

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2596

 

Unison leader Dave Prentis promised to smash the pay freeze in 2012—six years later workers are still waiting

Unison leader Dave Prentis promised to smash the pay freeze in 2012—six years later workers are still waiting (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Unison union leaders are recommending acceptance of a rotten pay deal for local government workers in England and Wales.

It follows a consultation which saw 50.4 percent vote against the deal despite a lack of serious campaigning from the national union.

The union’s National Joint Council (NJC) committee met last week. It said that although the deal had been rejected, 62 percent of branches had accepted it.

As a result the committee agreed “to reluctantly amend its recommendation to acceptance of the pay offer.”

Branches will have until 5 April to say yes or no to the decision to accept the deal. They should say they want to keep fighting and demand a proper strike ballot.

The offer would give the majority of staff, those earning an annual salary of £19,430 or more, a 2 percent pay rise from April and a further 2 percent rise in April next year.

The first of these is definitely below inflation, and the second is almost certain to be a pay cut too.

Unison recommended rejection, but its leaders were at best half-hearted in turning that into a strong campaign.

Big votes to reject were won where there was agitation.

Turnout

Jon Woods is branch president of Portsmouth City Unison. He told Socialist Worker in a personal capacity, “We pushed hard and voted 75 percent against the offer on a 39 percent turnout. There’s nothing special about Portsmouth except what activists did about the ballot.

“People are angry, but they need a lead from the top that gives them confidence that there will be a serious struggle. If there was a really powerful push I think we could win a national strike ballot.”

The Unite union closed its consultation on 9 March but there had been no indication of a result as Socialist Worker went to press on Tuesday.

The GMB union said 94 percent of its members accepted the deal. This reflects the steer coming from the leadership that there was no mood for resistance.

All the unions denounce Tory pay cuts. They should fight them.


Civil service workers in the PCS union were set to hold a day of action over pay on Thursday next week.

It comes as their union leaders enter talks with Tory ministers over the 1 percent pay cap.

The PCS could ballot for strikes if it doesn’t get a “positive response” to its demand for a 5 percent increase or £1,200, whichever is greater.

In a consultative ballot last year some 79 percent said they would strike to beat the pay cap.

Now PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka is calling on activists to “ensure that we are ballot-ready. So that we’re able to win any statutory ballot the NEC believes is required.”


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