Socialist Worker

Local government

by Local council worker
Issue No. 1911

ALL THREE unions involved in the local government pay talks have now accepted the deal on offer from the council employers’ body.

In Unison the vote was two to one for the deal—a closer vote than some had expected.

Two years ago local government saw the biggest strike for many years, involving around a million workers.

This time our national union officials were determined to avoid a real confrontation.

Their lack of action was condemned by the recent Unison local government conference.

It criticised officials for putting the interests of the Labour Party before the interests of members.

If officials had campaigned against the deal, rather than making no recommendation, it could have been rejected and we could have launched a big pay fight.

The deal now is for an 8.9 percent pay rise over three years.

This is slightly better than the first offer we got, but still scandalously low—and it will look appalling if inflation rises.

The employers withdrew some of their most outrageous proposals to slash premium payments and enhanced pay across the board.

But the latest deal does open the door to such cuts on a council by council basis.

So we should prepare for local battles.

The settlement has elements of compromise.

But the government will be delighted that such a big section of workers have been sidelined for a number of years, leaving it open for them to isolate and hammer others.

This is what the Tories did in the 1980s with what became know as the Ridley plan and, with the attack on the PCS union, it is what New Labour now seems to be preparing for again.

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Article information

Sat 24 Jul 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1911
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