This autumn sees UNISON and many other UK trade unions stepping up their campaigns for better pay for their members.
On Saturday 18 October the TUC-organised Britain Needs a Pay Rise march and rally takes place in London, with similar events in Glasgow and Northern Ireland combining for the biggest demonstration in the UK of the decade.
Those demonstrations will be aimed at conveying the message of public sector workers to the public at large.
But UNISON members are also making their feelings crystal clear to employers.
Local government workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have already started their programme of industrial action over pay. And strike ballots are currently underway across a number of other sectors, including the NHS, academy schools and local government workers in Scotland.
The message is the same: “enough is enough”.
UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis told the TUC Congress this week that now was the time “to defend all we have achieved and yet not to be ashamed to ask for more”.
At the heart of that demand is “a living wage for real people whose wellbeing is being ignored,” he said.
The number of workers who don’t earn enough to live on rocketed from 3.4m in 2009 to 5.2m in 2013.
Yet no more than 1% is being offered across the public sector for the coming year – nowhere near enough to combat the rising cost of living, or years of pay freezes.
This is the current schedule of ballots, agreed strike actions and demonstrations:
- Thursday 18 September: strike ballot of NHS members in England closes.
- Wednesday 24 September: strike ballot of academy school members closes.
- Monday 29 September: strike ballot of UNISON Scotland local government members closes.
- Tuesday 30 September: strike ballot for NHS members in Wales opens.
- Tuesday 14 October: local government members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be taking their second day of action, after rejecting the employers’ pay offer of just 1%.
- Saturday 18 October: Britain Needs A Pay Rise marches and rallies in London, Glasgow and Northern Ireland.
- Monday 20 October: NHS Wales ballot closes.
Stressing that UNISON members do not want to strike, Mr Prentis told TUC delegates that, “it is the only way to get to the table – the only way to be heard.”