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Why local government workers should vote Yes to strike

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From classroom assistants to social workers, and from gardeners to engineers, up to a million local government workers are voting on strikes over the next few weeks after employers awarded them a pay rise of just 1 percent. Socialist Worker explains why Unison and GMB union members should vote Yes
Issue 2405

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Our pay is shrinking!

  • Our pay has fallen by 18 percent in real terms since 2010. That’s because of pay freezes in 2010, 2011 and 2012, and a below inflation “pay rise” of just 1 percent last year. Local government pay (NJC) is the lowest in the public sector. Over two thirds of the NJC workforce are women. And over one million NJC workers earn less than £21,000 a year—below the government’s low pay threshold.

And it’s not just pay…

  • We’ve had cuts to car allowances, unsocial hours payments, overtime rates, sick pay, and annual leave. And of course, our pension contributions have gone up too! Swansea council is now charging up to £400 a year for staff parking, and many more are doing the same

A roof over your head?

  • Buying a home is no longer an option for most as house prices rise by 8 percent a year. But renting is little better. Average rents are rising at almost 3 percent a year to £848 a month. In London they have gone up by a quarter over three years.

Cost of living explosion

  • Spending on household energy has risen by 131 percent since 2003. On average we pay at least a third more than three years ago. Food prices have rocketed by 12 percent since 2007. Rail fares have gone up by 40 percent since 2008.

Recovery? Not here, mate!

  • Inflation is predicted to rise to 3.4 percent by 2017. Mortgage interest rates are set to rise too. A “pay rise” of only 1 percent is a cut. NJC workers earning less than £15,000 would have to spend a whole year’s pay on full time childcare for one child.

Rich are getting richer by the day

  • There’s no money for pay rises, say the employers and their Tory friends. But the richest 1,000 people have seen their combined wealth jump by more than 15 percent since last year. Britain now has 104 billionaires with a total wealth of £449 billion. Why can’t we make these rich people pay more by bringing in higher rates of tax?

‘We need to strike’

Bills are out of control and I constantly have to think ‘what can I cut?’ I can either keep depriving myself of basic necessities or I can have a strategy to go on strike. I don’t want to accept austerity—we need to strike. 

Nusrat Bukhari, Support Worker

We’ve had to endure pay cuts, pay freezes and below?inflation pay increases for years now. Faced with all this and the cuts to our services we all need to make sure we build the biggest vote we can for strikes on 10 July. 

Dave Lowe, Social Worker

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