Unison members who work in local government have voted by 70% in a consultative ballot to reject the employers meagre offer. As reported in previous issues of Soldiarity workers have faced a real terms pay cut of 20% in the last four years.
A formal ballot will take place from 23 May to 23 June. A yes vote is expected, and action could start on 10 July.
As is to commom in public sector disputes, the plan appears to be just one day of action in July followed potentially by a further 2 day (one at the beginning and then end of September) where it could be possible to link up with our Health section whose conference recently voted for action over there even worse pay offer (1% or increments for those not at top of the scale)
We have our local government and national delegate conferences in late June, and activists will attempt to get emergency motions on the agenda for both these to pressure the leadership to offer a more thought out strategy (see proposals below)
While there is a mood to reject 1% from the majority of workers, there isn’t a great confidence that our leadership is in touch with its members and can deliver a strategy to win.. Four years of pay and massive job cuts with very little opposition has had its impact on morale.
We need to take every opportunity to turn the anger over another proposed pay cut into a confidence that we can win against not just pay but also job cuts. The progress the left has made in other unions such as NUT where new rank and file teachers group, LANAC has managed to put pressure on existing leadership and have made breakthroughs in recent executive elections.
Workers liberty supporters will be working with other activists to try and rebuild rank and file group in our union that can offer an alternative strategy and leadership. Below is brief strategy for current and future pay disputes. We will be working with other in Unison to get this on the agenda as amendments or emergency motion to conference:
STRATEGY FOR CURRENT PAY DISPUTE
To win the current pay dispute, we need a sustained and escalating programme of industrial action which moves beyond one-day strikes.
The current local government pay dispute should begin with a two-day national strike, with the union announcing an ongoing timetable of action beyond this, with the dates for further strikes set and announced in advance, and including:
• Selective action involving groups of workers to maximise impact (e.g., parking inspectors, caretakers, revenue staff, etc.)
• Programmes of action-short-of-strikes in between national strike days, including a work-to-rule and overtime ban
• Attempts to coordinate where possible with teachers’ unions
• A commitment to coordinate and distribute hardship payments, levied from both branch and national funds
• Encouraging branches to convene local, cross-union strike committees to inform regional and national SGE strategy
STRATEGY FOR FUTURE PAY DISPUTES
The current timetable for pay claims means that members wait several months for new pay deals to come into effect, hitting lowest-paid members hardest, and means lower-paid workers are more likely to accept whatever pay deal is offered at an earlier stage.
In future years, Unison should begin its pay claim process earlier, and demand that employers respond to the union’s claim at least four months before any pay award is due to come into effect.
If employers fail to do this, Unison commits to launching a dispute to win the pay claim through industrial action.