The Sunday Times “super rich list” shows the UK has more billionaires than any other country per head, and London the most of any city worldwide. Their collective wealth has risen by over 20% in one year.
Meanwhile 650,000 local government workers in the UK have seen a real-terms pay cut of 20% over the last four years. They will now be balloting for action over pay (the ballot begins on 23 May)
If there is a yes vote for action, as is expected, there could be a strike on 10 July involving members of Unison, GMB and Unite in local government and schools.
It is also possible that they will be joined by teachers in the National Union of Teachers (who are still in dispute over pay, pensions and workload), and health workers, as last month Unison members in the NHS voted for action over the miserable 1% pay increase they have been offered.
The obscene disparity between the super-rich and the loan sharks and child poverty for the majority of low-paid council workers exposes the lie that “the country” cannot afford pay rises.
In run up to Unison local government and national delegate conferences in June, delegates will be discussing a strategy to win our pay dispute. Workers’ Liberty will be calling for escalating strike action, including dates set for more than one strike day in July and more dates set in advance for September. We also advocate a national strike fund to pay out strike pay for those who need it, and a discussion about selective action, action short of strike, and work to rule tactics.
Over the last period one-day strikes have been discredited. They win little and undermine the solidity of disputes.
May’s local elections are likely to deliver a change in leadership of the Local Government Association as Tories and Lib Dems lose councillors and Labour wins seats. The unions should use this opportunity to force a rethink on the Tory pay freeze.
The first task is to give ourselves a massive mandate for action and get the largest vote for action. Then we need to build willingness to take serious ongoing action. This is what will make the new employers take public sector pay seriously.