COUNCIL WORKERS in Newham, east London, were due this week to start a ballot on industrial action to defend their union branch. The New Labour council has renewed its threat to axe the Unison union branch's full time officers, and to force it out of its existing union office in a council building.
The council had threatened to enforce these attacks last week, but shied away from doing so as workers rallied outside the union office. Oli Rahman (right), chair of the civil servants' union in east London, joined Michael Gavan (left), chair of Newham Unison, outside the Unison offices. Oli was last week asked by the local Respect: The Unity Coalition to be its candidate in the 10 June London Assembly elections.
UNIONS representing over one million local council workers have rejected the employers' pay offer. At talks last week the Unison, TGWU and GMB unions all rejected the offer of a 7 percent rise over three years.
The offer is very low, just 2.3 percent a year, and the third year is conditional on the local council completing a pay review by then. And as well as the meagre level of the pay offer itself there are all sorts of strings attached.
The most important of these is that the employers want to abolish national premiums-rates for unsocial hours-such as weekend and night-time working. Unison has put in a very modest pay claim, of 4 percent plus a flat rate element of £200 with a minimum wage of £6 an hour for all council workers. The next key date is a meeting with the employers on 25 March, where we will hear if they are prepared to revise their offer upwards.
MARTIN GREGORY, chair Oxford City Unison and member of the trade union side of the National Joint Council, the joint union-employer body which discusses local government workers' pay
CHILDCARE SOCIAL workers in Liverpool, a Liberal Democrat controlled council, voted for a second three-day strike at a mass meeting on Thursday of last week. They are striking over high workloads and staff shortages. The members of the Unison union will start their strike on 14 April. Members of the GMB union also voted to continue their industrial action. Earlier last week management had further antagonised the situation. They told Unison full time convenors that they would have their pay docked and annual leave reduced for having been on the picket lines during the last strike. Management have also deducted five days annual leave from staff who refused to cross picket lines.
Messages and donations for the hardship fund are still needed-send to Liverpool Unison, Room G01, Ground Floor, Cotton Exchange Building, Bixteth Street, Liverpool.