UNISON has decided to ballot 600,000 local government and school members for strike action after 70% of members rejected this year’s pay offer in the recent consultative ballot.
The pay offer would mean around 50,000 of the lowest paid local government workers receive a rise that is slightly above inflation. However the remainder of the workforce – around 90% – would receive just 1%.
Local government workers have already endured three consecutive years of pay freezes, followed by below-inflation rises in 2013 and 2014, leaving their pay reduced by almost 20% since the Coalition came to power.
The decision to move to an official strike ballot came on the same day that firefighters’ union, the FBU, announced a series of strikes over attacks on their pensions, and after teachers in the NUT confirmed that they will continue their strike action in June. Health workers in UNISON are also in the process of being balloted for strikes after the government’s disgraceful announcement that over 60% would be denied a pay rise this year.
A united strike of a million or more public sector workers this summer has the potential to smash the pay freeze and would be a sword against austerity. Now is the time to get organised, recruit your colleagues and elect local reps, so that we can turn that potential into a reality.