Council workers in London are to ballot on a one-day strike on 14 May over pay. The workers are demanding a rise in the London weighting allowance, which covers the extra costs of working and living in the capital. They want £4,000 a year, a modest demand compared to the £6,000 allowance the police get.
Members of the Unison union, which the majority of London council workers belong to, overwhelmingly backed action in a recent consultation. A meeting of delegates from Unison branches in London councils supported timing the ballot to allow a strike on 1 May.
But members of Unison's national industrial action committee last week rejected the call for a possible 1 May strike, though a big minority of the committee did back that call. Instead any action following a yes vote will be on 14 May. The task for activists now is to ensure an overwhelming yes vote, and then organise picket lines and a major demonstration on the day.
If school support staff in Unison put up picket lines many teachers, as well as school students, could be won to not crossing them. This could make 14 May a militant day of protest in the capital.
Meanwhile council workers in Unison and the TGWU and GMB unions are voting in a series of consultative ballots on possible national action over pay. The votes, some of them being conducted at local branch level, are over the council employers' 3 percent pay offer to 1.2 million workers. The votes run until 15 April. If there is a no vote that could then pave the way for national action on pay.