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.