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The News Line: News Tories throw down gauntlet! – separate pay awards for police & prison officers
300,000 marched on parliament on July 1st – now is the time for the TUC to call a general strike
IN A SLAP in the face for the TUC Congress, the Tory government yesterday announced pay rises for police and prison officers, while leaving all other public sector workers subject to the 1% pay cap.


Prison officers will get a 1.7% rise while police will get a 1% pay rise plus a 1% bonus for the year, paid for from existing departmental budgets. Tory Treasury minister Liz Truss said that ‘pay discipline’ would need to continue for many years.

Speaking before the Treasury’s announcement, the Prison Officers Association general secretary Steve Gillan said any below-inflation pay rise would be unacceptable and that the Association would support ‘consolidated action’ by unions if their demands were not met.

On Monday the head of Unite, Len McCluskey, warned that unions could stage a mass walkout over pay later this year, even if the legal thresholds for industrial action in strike ballots are not met.

McCluskey said that co-ordinated public sector industrial action on pay is ‘very much on the cards’ and he would support ‘illegal’ strike action against the 1% public sector pay cap. Since March, strike ballots have had to achieve a 50% turnout for legal industrial action to go ahead.

McCluskey said: ‘If they (Unite members) haven’t managed to hit an artificial threshold this government have foolishly put onto the statute books, then I will stand by our members and we’ll all live, including the government, we’ll all live with the consequences of that.’

McCluskey added: ‘In terms of the concept of coordinated public service workers’ action, then yes I think that is very likely and very much on the cards. We will always stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our members. If the government have pushed us outside the law they will have to stand the consequences.''

The unions are pressing for a 5% increase for millions of nurses, teachers, council staff, civil servants and other workers. Before the government made its announcement TUC delegates voted unanimously at their Congress in Brighton yesterday for Emergency Motions 1 & 2 in support of Royal Mail workers and Birmingham binmen.

Emergency Motion 1 Royal Mail calls for support for the CWU’s ‘Pillars of Security’ campaign which aims to ‘protect members’ future employment, standard of living and retirement security, and a secure a pay rise for 2017.’

Moving Emergency Motion 1, the CWU’s Terry Pullinger said: ‘It’s important that all unions, including the TUC, support strike actions.’ He cited strikes by RMT, Bart’s hospital and McDonald’s workers. He said: ‘CWU members at Royal Mail are about to take strike action.
People did not want Royal Mail privatised but the government sold it off cheap.

‘Three years on they are selling off our buildings and assets. Now they are attacking our terms and conditions at work. We will be fighting for job security. They intend to bring in a two-tier workforce. We will not put up with this attack on the next generation. Our members deserve a pay rise and security in retirement.’

He concluded: ‘Our members will fight for themselves and to protect their public services. We will be asking you to support us. We will make sure there’s a public service worthy of renationalisation when Labour come in.’

Seconding the motion, Kevin Terry of Unite said: ‘We will support your members when they take industrial action. All of us support the fight against privatisation.’ Howard Beckett of Unite moved Emergency Motion 2 Birmingham refuse collectors and upholding ACAS agreements, which states: ‘Congress calls on the General Council to campaign and take the necessary action to ensure that agreements struck at ACAS are honoured.’

Beckett told delegates: ‘We have a Labour council in Birmingham willing to do the job of the Tories. Grade 3 drivers have safety critical duties at the back of the bin. But responsibility for safety was removed recklessly to the driver. Members’ salaries face being cut from £19,000 to £15,000. On 15th August at ACAS it was agreed safety would be protected. On 31st August, Labour announced redundancies of our members. The Chief Executive took £160,000 in expenses on top of her salary. These cuts are the thin end of the wedge of cuts across Birmingham City Council.’

He went on to declare: ‘A Labour council which does not stand up for our members has no place in our movement. I say to councillors if you continue to act as Tories Unite will treat you as Tories. Our ballot for more action will be successful. The resignation of Birmingham Council Labour leader John Clancy is not enough.’

He concluded: ‘Stand on the side of workers’ strike action, reject austerity, uphold the ACAS deal.’
Seconding the motion, PCS leader Mark Serwotka, said: ‘This resolution tells us the real story of austerity. Refuse workers have already suffered pay cuts and the injustice of a pay cap.’

He called on everyone to join the Unite National Demonstration in support of the binmen in Birmingham this coming Sunday.
 
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