Improve local government pay offer or face strike action, says UNISON

Ballot on action expected to begin next month

UNISON is to ballot for industrial action among the 400,000 council and school staff it represents in England, Wales and Northern Ireland over ​what the union says is an “inadequate” pay offer from employers.

An overwhelming majority (79%) of UNISON ​members who took part in ​a month-long consultation ​exercise voted to reject the 1.75% offer​. The union says this falls well short of the 10% claim ​put forward for this year ​with GMB and Unite.

​UNISON believes it is not too late for local government employers to think again and improve the increase offered to staff who have worked through the worst of times.

Members will now be asked to vote ‘yes’ to taking action in support of the union’s campaign for better pay.

UNISON deputy head of local government Mike Short said: “Council and school workers have made clear the strength of feeling about their pay.

“They’ve been the unsung heroes of the pandemic, working tirelessly and often at risk to their own health to serve their communities. ​

“Staff carried on working throughout successive lockdowns, keeping people’s neighbourhoods clean and safe, ​ensuring schools ​remained open and looking after the most vulnerable.

“But ​council and school employees have also seen the value of their pay reduced by ​a quarter since 2010​. The recent hike in the cost of living means their wages are falling further and further behind.

“An offer of just 1.75% is totally inadequate for workers who’re already among the lowest paid in the country. Their efforts and sacrifices should be ​better recognised and rewarded.”

Notes to editors:
– UNISON’s consultation took place from 24 August  to 24 September. The ballot is expected to begin next month.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

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