Unions representing over a million local government workers – GMB, UNISON and Unite – have agreed to escalate their dispute over pay with a campaign running into the autumn.
The three unions have agreed that their members will run a co-ordinated strike of their local government and school members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on Tuesday 14 October. UNISON will not proceed with strike action on 30 September.
The strike will be just a few days before the TUC organised national demonstration on 18 October calling for decent pay.
Local government workers have suffered three years of a pay freeze, followed by a below inflation pay deal and have now been offered a paltry 1%. They have seen their pay reduced in value by 20%since 2010. This resulted in a one day strike on 10 July.
No further talks have taken place since that date, despite the unions offering to go to the Government’s arbitration andconciliation service.
UNISON Head of Local Government, Heather Wakefield, said:
“Employers and Government must be left in no doubt that we are serious in this dispute. As sister unions, we stand together to make sure that our members are treated with decency and respect. Our members cannot afford to carry on propping up local services through their pay packets. Many are low paid women who are being forced to resort to food banks and payday loan sharks just to survive. We need to put the heart back into local government by paying a living wage.”
GMB National Secretary, Brian Strutton, said:
“Our members in GMB, UNISON and Unite expect us to maximise our joint effectiveness and that’s why we are announcing thenext strike together. Our members deserve a fair pay deal and we have to fight together to achieve that. Council leaders should reconsider their parsimonious pay offer and do the right thing by their staff.”
Unite National Officer, Fiona Farmer, said:
“Local government workers have had years of real pay cuts, working harder to deliver vital local services while being paid less and struggling to make ends meet. Low paid members unable to afford basis essentials are having to choose between heating and eating. On 1st October the National Minimum Wage will overtake local government pay scales, we need Fair Pay not Poverty Pay.”
Local Government workers taking strike action include care workers, librarians, cleaners, environmental health officers, street cleaners, home carers, parks and recreation workers, teaching assistants and school meals workers and refuse workers.