Local government and school workers across the north east will be joinging colleagues across England, Wales and Northern Ireland on Thursday in a strike to pressurise their employer to make an increase in their pay award.
Calling this year’s 1% offer “derisory in the extreme”, UNISON Northern deputy regional convenor Nicky Ramanandi pointed out that it would “see 90% of school and local government workers receive a further pay cut”.
UNISON members on national local government terms and conditions endured a devastating three year pay freeze and then a miserly 1% increase last year, representing an 18% fall in pay in real terms, back to the level of the 1990s.
“This pay offer does not keep pace with price increases and our pensions will suffer,” added Ms Ramanandi.” The offer is nowhere near enough.
“We believe that we are worth more and we don’t believe the employers when they say that keeping our pay low will protect jobs and services.”
The union’s lead officer for local government in the region, Karen Loughlin, said: “Part-time workers - mainly women and more than half the local government workforce - have been particularly hard hit, with their hourly earnings now worth the same as they were 10 years ago.
“Many low paid part-time local government workers need benefits and tax credits to keep their families out of poverty – it is deeply disturbing to hear the continuing stories of local government workers resorting to food banks.
“UNISON is demanding a decent pay rise in recognition of the valuable role that our members perform in delivering public services to children, young people, the elderly and vulnerable in our communities.
“Our members in local government have shown their commitment to keeping our local services going against all odds,” she said, “and we now need a commitment from the government and the local government employers to finally make us a decent pay offer.”