Unite, Unison and GMB have initiated a ballot for Local Government workers with the recommendation to reject the derisory 1% pay increase offered by the Local Government Employers.
The offer is in contrast to the current RPI rate of inflation of 2.8%. The cost of living for many of the lowest paid makes the offer unacceptable and pushes more workers further into poverty.
All three unions have called for rejection of the offer and indicated this will be the beginning of strike action. A serious campaign must be fought to ensure a strong turnout to reject the offer is coupled with willingness from the leadership to back effective action that wins the dispute.
Unison members have been told that the “one-day” culture that has become the stock trade of public sector unions, with the full backing of the bureaucracy, will have to come to an end. This can only be effective if the Union has a serious strategy and engages branches and stewards in building well supported, solid and escalating strikes. Coordinating action with teaching support staff and being creative in the action taken can be part of the offensive against poverty pay. However without a serious push in branches that such action can win combativeness will remain low.
The confidence of those members willing to take action, particularly in large cities where the effect of the ever increasing loss in pay is felt at is sharpest, must be backed by a commitment for strike pay and rank and file control of the dispute. The very real fear of job losses from the cuts will make some workers wary of any action.
A successful strike over pay can build momentum and confidence amongst these workers in the fight against further cuts and redundancies.