OVER a million council workers and school support staff are to strike on 14 October over the government’s 1% pay ‘offer’.
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.
The strike will be just a few days before the TUC-organised national demonstration on 18 October calling for decent pay.
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.
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 and conciliation service.
Unite National Officer, Fiona Farmer, said: ‘Low-paid members unable to afford basic 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.’
Unison Head of Local Government, Heather Wakefield, said: ‘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 the next 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.’