Why are we being balloted for strike action?

Since 2010 the Conservative government has slashed funding for local government, including keeping our wages down. This means in the last 13 years we have lost around 25% of our pay in real terms. Essentially we are all working a day for free.

Despite Sunak’s promise to halve inflation by the summer, inflation is still sky high. Food and energy bills in particular are much higher than they were two years ago, with no sign of the prices reducing.

If pay had kept up with inflation (not even a pay rise just keeping up with inflation) we would all be on much better wages.

Last year Local Government workers were offered a flat rate increase of £1925 (£2355 in inner London). Well below inflation for every member of staff.

Although Lambeth UNISON members rejected this pay offer as being yet another real terms pay cut, UNISON members nationally voted to accept it.

This year the joint trade unions that negotiate wages for local government (UNISON, GMB and Unite) put forward a 12.6% pay increase for all staff. This was rejected by the employers, instead we were offered the same amount as last year (£1925/£2355). UNISON representatives rejected this outright and moved to a strike vote.

This is now a fight. It is a fight for not just decent pay but also the future of local government, of public services in general. The money is out there to provide decent, well funded public services like health, education and social care, as well as invest in new modern social housing. But the Conservative government don’t want to properly tax the super rich or the corporations that are making huge profits. The four major super markets made £4bn profit last year. The oil companies are making millions of pounds profit a week. There are 3 million millionaries in the UK, and 177 billionaies with a combined wealth of £600bn (this increased by 150bn in the last two years alone).

We need every UNISON member to vote. UNISON is recommending a YES vote for industrial action. A vote for action is a vote for dignity at work, for a future for the public sector. It is a vote to say that we are not going to take it any more and we will resist and fight to defend our standard of living, for ourselves, out families and our communities.

Whether you work in social care, libraries, parks, crematoriums, leisure centres, housing, ICT, HR, civil planning, education, community safety or any of the other hundreds of crucial jobs that local government workers do – this is your fight. Together we can win.


The UNISON ballot is from 23 May until 3 July. It is a postal ballot. If you do not get your ballot papers or you lose them call UNISON Direct to order a new one 0800 0 857857.

New members who join before 21 June will be eligible to vote.

If there is a YES vote for industrial action then you will be expected to take strike action, that means no crossing picket lines and no working from home.

Any questions please contact your UNISON rep, convenor or branch officer.

Win the ballot: Fight for Pay meeting

Dear Colleague

This is an invitation for you to join thousands of other London council UNISON members at this meeting on Pay!

A groundbreaking event is taking place on Tuesday 21 March 6.30-7.30 pm when UNISON members from other London councils will be signing up for the first ever London Wide UNISON council & school workers meeting.

Barnet UNISON  Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86358706964?pwd=aFQyZmFsVXVqL2tNTk02dTlQd2pFZz09

Meeting ID: 863 5870 6964

Passcode: 869860

The Cost-of-Living Crisis is unrelenting, and more and more workers are under pressure to keep up with increases in costs such as Food, Heating, Rent, Mortgages, Child Care, etc.

Council and Schools workers’ pay has fallen so low over the last 13 years that everyone is now working at least ONE day a week for free.

At the same time energy companies are announcing massive levels of profits whilst many of our members are afraid to turn on the heating.

UNISON Council and School workers now have the opportunity to add their voice to the hundreds of thousands of other trade union members who have already taken strike action over the issue of low pay such as: Transport workers, Royal Mail workers, BT workers, Teachers, Junior Doctors, Train drivers, Cleaners, Teachers, College workers, Border Control workers, Civil Servants, Barristers.

All these trade union members managed to deliver a BIG YES vote in their strike ballot.

In London we need to send a message about the hardship of living on low pay in London. To do that we need to organise across London councils in order for our members’ voices to be heard loud and clear in Parliament.

When is the Strike Ballot to start?

The strike ballot papers will start being sent out to members home addresses from 23 May to 4 July.

What can members do?

It is important that all UNISON members’ email Lambeth UNISON branch at jablake@lambeth.gov.uk with their correct postal address and contact details including their telephone/ mobile number and email address.

It is critical to the success of the strike ballot that Lambeth UNISON has the correct details and has your permission to contact you about the strike ballot.

 Phone banking.

We know from other trade unions the importance of speaking to members about voting and sending back the ballot papers. We are looking for help to be on the Lambeth UNISON phone bank. If you would like to volunteer, please email us at shannah@lambeth.gov.uk

FAQ on the 2022 pay campaign

1 What is the pay claim?

Every year all the major unions in Local Government (UNISON, GMB, Unite) meet with the employers to submit a new wage claim. This happens at the National Joint Council (NJC) where unions meet with leaders of Local Government. Due to the cost of living crisis the unions submitted a pay claim for every worker in Local Government to get a minimum of £2000 pay increase or linked to RPI inflation (whichever is higher). 

2. Will the employers accept this?

It is unlikely that they will accept it, they might come back with an offer of 3%-5% for instance.

3. That sounds good? Better than what I have had recently!

If we accept an offer of 5% with inflation at 11% then that will be a 6% pay cut in real terms.

4. What did we get last year?

Last year we were offered 1.75% and we balloted for strike action but nationally the turn out was too low so we ended up having to accept it. The 1.75% ‘increase’ was wiped out by the rise in National Insurance Contributions so many people didn’t really get much of a pay rise at all, not even counting inflation.

This was on the back of a decade of real term pay cuts which has seen all local government workers lose around 25% of their pay in real terms.

5. So what is the next step?

We are waiting for the  employer to get back to us with their counter offer.  Once we get that the plan we are likely to move straight to a ballot on industrial action.

6. Tell me more about the strike ballot

This will be an official ballot for industrial action. It will be by post as that is required by law so you cannot vote online. If we are balloted then everyone must fill in their ballot and then return it before the deadline. We need to get at least a 50% turn out with a resounding yes vote to be able to take action in pursuit of our claim.

7. Will this be a national ballot?

This will be a disaggregated ballot, which means that it will be employer by employer. This means if we get a solid vote in Lambeth then we can take action alongside other branches that also met the threshold of a 50% turn out.

8. What if I don’t really want to strike though?

Once all the petitions have been handed in and all the emails to MPs have been sent and the negotiations with the employers have hit a brick wall, the only thing that they will listen to is workers fighting back with their ultimate weapon, to withdraw their labour. Every serious gain that we have made as workers, from the weekend to eight-hour days to sick pay to holiday entitlement has been from sticking together and fighting together. That is what a union is all about.

If we strike it will mean a fight to force an increase from the government – we will be taking action the same as the railyway workers, postal workers and others across the economy who simply cannot take it any more and need our pay to reflect the cost of living.

UNISON also has strike pay of £50 a day which you can claim if we do strike.

The more important question might be – can you afford not to strike? Will you settle for a 4% pay increase given the huge problems of inflation?

9. How can I help?

Update your details on http://www.unison.org.uk/my-unison to make sure your address is up to date.  If your postal ballot goes to the wrong place then that might mean you lose your ability to vote.

Recruit your workmates to UNISON, tell them about the pay campaign and what we are doing to help improve lives for workers.

Offer to help with ring rounds or workplace meetings – we need to speak to every member of the branch who is being balloted and make sure they have voted. This means we need volunteers to help call 5-10 people each and confirm they have voted so we can check them off the list.  Please contact Simon or Jocelyn (shannah@lambeth.gov.uk and jcruywagen@lambeth.gov.uk) to offer to help out.

Five ways to help with the local government pay campaign

Local government workers deserve higher pay! Here is how we can get this campaign started before any potential ballot for strike action.

1 Email your local councillor
Local councillors can voice their support for a pay rise for council and school staff directly with local government employers. Please email your councillor and convince them to use their influence to support the pay claim. We’ve created a ready to send email that you can send at the click of a button, just visit:
action.unison.org.uk/page/105299/action/

2 Ask your colleagues to join UNISON
We’re stronger together. Check if your colleagues are members of UNISON and if they aren’t, show them how they can join – it only takes 5 minutes: join.unison.org.uk

3 Make sure your details are up to date
Check MyUNISON to make sure that we have the right contact information for you, as you don’t want important information on this campaign to go to the wrong place. You may be balloted by post and if your address is wrong then you could lose your chance to vote!
Head to: http://www.unison.org.uk/my-unison

4 Follow us on social media
Check out our facebook and twitter profiles to have your say on pay and get all of the latest up to date information on this campaign.
facebook.com/LambethUNISON
twitter.com/LambethUNISON – remember to mention #WeNeedMore

5 Prepare for the consultation
Make sure you’re ready to have your say when we ask for your view on the final pay offer. Talk to colleagues and really think about the pay rise you need so you can make an informed decision on whether to accept the offer or not. We might be offered 4% – but with inflation at 11% do you want to accept what is in effect a 7% ay cut?

Voting on the strike ballot starts today!

Ballot papers are being dispatched to your homes as we launch the fight for the 10% pay increase we all deserve.

Local government workers have had enough and it is time to stand up and be counted.  We have lost 23% of our pay since 2010. Enough is Enough

We have had a message of solidarity from the Lambeth Labour Group backing our fight for decent pay.

For more information on the ballot please visit our campaign website.

Look our for your ballot papers – they will come in an envelope marked IMPORTANT YOUR VOTING PAPERS ENCLOSED

Please vote as soon as you get your ballot papers. Email Ruth Cashman at Rcashman@lambeth.gov.uk to confirm you have voted so we don’t have to contact you separately!

In solidarity,

Lambeth Labour supports our pay campaign

Lambeth Labour Councillors support the campaign by local government workers for better pay.

They have published this statement from Cllr Andy Wilson who is the Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance and a councillor in Larkhall ward.

The last 18 months have been both tumultuous and terrifying, where the effects of the pandemic and the lockdown touched upon each of our lives.

Despite the upheaval that we all faced in our lives during those dark days, I am proud to report that 100% of essential services were delivered by Lambeth Council during this challenging time.

This is testament to the effort, dedication and professionalism of our local government workers, exhibiting a spirit of public service and hard work in maintaining provision for some of our most vulnerable residents during the most trying of times.

Since 2010 local government workers have suffered a 23% pay cut in their pay due to a decade and counting of austerity, public sector pay freezes and year on year inflation. Inflation is at 6% RPI and we are all facing a take home pay cut next year due to the increase in National Insurance Contributions.

The 1.75% pay offer is in reality a pay cut for hundreds of thousands of staff across the country. Lambeth Labour believes in a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s pay, and we support the joint calls from UNISON, The GMB, and Unite The Union for a pay award that reflects this.

Our residents and local government workers deserve better with a pay award that recognises the worth of the people that kept the show on the road during the height of the pandemic and beyond.

London UNISON policy on the Nationality and Borders Bill – resist racism!

This motion was passed by Greater London Regional Council of UNISON on 2 November 2021

BLACK MEMBERS AGAINST RACIALLY DIVISIVE NATIONALITY AND BORDERS BILL


The ‘Nationality and Borders Bill’ is an appalling, racially divisive piece of legislation that seeks to legitimise and elevate the unpopular, derided racist hostile environment policy. The Bill seeks to criminalise the heroic acts of refugees in carving out routes to safety despite tremendous odds to arrive on Britain’s shores, along with the many thousands of acts within our communities that has played a part in the successive defeats of the Home Office’s most brutal policies. It is likely to lead to more outrages in line with the Windrush-Scandal.
Action now in all sectors, with the leadership of our Black members, and the wider refugee, asylum seeking and anti-racist communities, is essential to stop the Bill from becoming a workable law.
We note that
The RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) defied the threat of the Borders Bill to criminalise the act of rescuing people from the sea and responded by asserting that they will not break their ethical code to rescue anyone in distress at sea without discrimination1.
The TUC statement of 24th August 2021 calls on the government to “… suspend deportation flights until it has addressed the miscarriages of justice taking place within the immigration system, and to scrap the new Nationality and Borders Bill that would breach international human rights law and increase worker exploitation.”2
Timed to coincide with the launch of the Bill the Home Office organised a ‘summer of charter flight’ mass deportations and removals to sweep up any ‘low hanging fruit’ the Home Office could reach. These mass deportations during a continuing pandemic were resisted by Jamaican, Nigerian, Zimbabwean and Vietnamese communities and organisations. Work by immigrant-rights organisation Movement for Justice identified so many miscarriages of justices concerning the Jamaica flight it eventually left with just 7 (Seven) of the 90 (Ninety) people originally targeted.
However, rather than end the injustice, the Nationality and Borders Bill:
• Seeks to create concentration camps of asylum seekers on islands hidden from view, inaccessible and out of the regular jurisdiction.
• Criminalises the most important aspect of seeking asylum – the act of moving across borders to escape danger.
• Perpetuates a view of Black people as outsiders whose status is permanently in question.
1 https://rnli.org/news-and-media/2021/july/28/statement-on-the-humanitarian-work-of-the-rnli-in-the-english-channel
2 https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/tuc-calls-deportation-flights-be-suspended
• Endorses Home Secretary – Priti Patel’s public attack on the lawyers and organisations who successfully fight oppressive Home Office practices by labelling them as ‘do-gooders’.
• Threatens sanctions against countries that don’t roll over and accept deportations, such as Jamaica which resisted accepting deportees who were effectively British, had no ties in Jamaica, had been in the UK from childhood, and faced immediate risk on return.
Overall, the Bill seeks to divide and weaken the working classes and oppressed through inducing and encouraging racism. The stigmatising of new asylum seekers and other immigrants who possess the highest hopes and ambitions for a better, fairer society, denotes a clear threat to everyone who, by association of the colour of their skin, the sound of their accents and the colour of their passport, prove the historic realty that Britain’s role in the world brings the world into Britain. The dynamism and hope in our increasingly international community is a threat to any government that seeks to intensify exploitation of the working class and to extend deeper cuts to social welfare and provisions.
We therefore

  1. Support the statement against the Nationality and Borders Bill issued by the TUC.
    We call on Regional Committee to
  2. Work with all TUC links that fall within the committee’s competence, to explore ways to further the words of the TUC statement against the Nationality and Borders Bill into effective actions that can defeat that Bill, and reverse the racist hostile environment measures.
  3. Work with Labour Link to strengthen Labour opposition to the Nationality and Borders Bill.
  4. Call on Labour Link to support those local authorities / councils that make public pledges that they will resist collaboration with the Home Office on its new rules which target immigrants.
  5. To launch a high-profile campaign for the region to oppose the bill from becoming law.
  6. Work with appropriate regional and national committees to develop a strategy through discussions / liaison to strongly support the campaign to prevent the Bill from becoming a workable law while in full compliance with UNISON rules.

Care workers get organised! Protest 4 September

Care and Support Workers Organise (CASWO) are planning a day of action on Saturday 4 September during Professional Care Workers Week. CASWO is a cross union campaign made up of care and support workers from across the labour movement. Care and support workers have risked their lives during the pandemic to continue to care for the society’s most vulnerable. They have been at the sharp end of the government’s policy failures and have had to endure PPE shortages, lack of adequate testing in care homes and continued poverty pay.           

CASWO are demanding:

  • £15 per hour minimum wage for all care and support staff    
  • Full recognition as key workers making it easier for carers to access genuinely affordable housing
  • For the social care sector to be bought under democratic ownership

We fully support CASWO’s demands, and we encourage all our members to take part in the day of action. If you are a care worker or just believe that care workers deserve better, then we urge you to join the demo! Care and support workers need our solidarity as they have given so much over the past 18 months. They don’t just deserve our gratitude and applause but a meaningful pay rise and better working conditions.  

The action will start at 11.30am on Saturday 4 September outside the Department for Health and Social Care with a full list of speakers to be confirmed. Other demonstrations will take place at the same time in Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow and Preston, making it a national day of action!

Make sure to spread the word about the demo at your workplace and support this vital campaign.

Also, please click the link below and sign CASWO’s petition calling on Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and members of The London Assembly to include all care and support workers in ‘Key Worker’ housing schemes across London.

Make sure to follow CASWO on both Twitter and Facebook.

Twitter: @CaSWO_

Facebook: @CareAndSupportWorkersOrganise

Council workers deserve decent pay

The national employers council for Local Government has offered Council workers a 1.75% pay increase for most staff and 2.75% for lower graded staff.

UNISON is rejecting this derisory offer which is below inflation and in no way makes up for over a decade of below inflation pay ‘increases’. UNISON is arguing for 10% for all staff. This would go some way to improving the lives of dedicated local government workers who have sacrificed so much and worked so hard even through the pandemic.

You can read more about the pay campaign for 10% below

Council staff who kept local services and schools running deserve a real pay rise

And for more details and why you should vote to REJECT the offer in the forthcoming ballot please click on the link below