Monday, June 23, 2008

Local Government workers vote for Strike Action!

UNISON members in local government in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have voted by 55% to 45% for a programme of sustained strike action over a 2.45% pay offer.

The union’s negotiating team, the National Joint Council committee, will now meet tomorrow to decide what action to recommend to the national strike committee that meets on Friday 27 June.

Commenting on the ballot result, general secretary Dave Prentis said:

"This is a solid vote for action and a clear message to the local government employers that our members are willing to fight for a decent pay rise. They are fed up and angry that they are expected to accept pay cut after pay cut, while bread and butter prices go through the roof. Most of them are low paid workers, who are hit hardest by food and fuel price hikes and they see the unfairness of boardroom bonanzas and big city bonuses. Other local government workers who have to use their cars for work are being hit hard too by spiralling fuel costs and they end up subsidising their employers."

UNISON head of local government Heather Wakefield added:

"The employers should be in no doubt: the members have voted for a programme of sustained and escalating strike action because they are sick of being treated as the poor relations of the public sector. Their case for a realistic pay increase is indisputable. We are, of course, willing to meet with the employers at any time, but we will decide tomorrow what recommendations to make to our national strike committee."

Nearly 600,000 UNISON members were balloted on industrial action; including social workers, housing benefit workers, rent collectors refuse workers, school meals staff, teaching assistants, cooks, cleaners, architects and surveyors.Almost 250,000 of those balloted earn less than £6.50 an hour and 75% of them are women.The joint unions' pay claim was for 6% or 50p an hour whichever was the greater.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Voters back Fair Pay for Public Sector workers.

As hundreds of public service workers prepare to lobby their MPs today, new research shows wide public backing for union calls for public sector wages to keep up with the cost of living and with wage rises in the private sector.

The YouGov poll shows that 79% of voters think public service pay should keep up with the cost of living. Nine out of 10 agree that the government should take housing and energy bills into account when working out the cost of living, rather than basing pay negotiations on a measure of inflation that excludes these figures.

Nor did those surveyed want the pay of school workers, NHS staff and other public service workers to fall behind private sector pay – 68% believe it is unfair that public service pay settlements currently average 2.7%, while the pay of people working for private companies is increasing by 4%.

At lunchtime today, trade unionists working in schools, councils, the NHS and elsewhere will take part in a rally at Westminster before lobbying MPs over union calls for public service wages to keep up with the cost of living.They will tell MPs that the government’s pay policy means that public service workers are facing cuts in their standard of living, that many are already struggling to make ends meet and cannot afford a below-inflation pay rise.

This expression of public support for hard pressed workers in councils and schools, the health and emergency services should give each and every one of us considering industrial action over pay a massive boost. It is not enough for the Government to keep spinning the myth that it is public sector workers that cause wage inflation and that there is little sympathy from ordinary people up and down the country.

This poll shows that this is not the case. We should all take this opportunity to talk widely with our friends, families and neighbours to explain the issues on public sector pay and why it is necessary that we take action. The public are already with us - let's build on that support.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Reminder - Return Your Ballot Paper!

As if any UNISON member needed reminding of just how appalling the employers pay-cut (oops! we mean pay offer...) really is, hopefully this will refresh your memory.

For every worker in the Public Sector, costs and expenses are rising, just at the point where the Government decides that we should bear more of the cost. On top of this, we are now contributing more to our pensions than before and are faced with the threat of job evaluation and possible pay cuts for hundreds of DMBC employees.

So if you are a Social Worker or one of the many employees that has to use a car for your job, you are already paying a hefty extra price just for the "privilege," of doing your job; if you are a homeowner, you will be paying more just to keep a roof over your head; we are all paying more for food, fuel and just keeping body and soul together for ourselves, our children and our families.

This Government has peddled the myth that Public Sector pay adds to inflation - while at the same time allowing the wealthiest in our society to continue to rake in huge salaries, tax breaks and avoid what they should be paying to support schools, the NHS and other publically provided services. There are no reasons why we should not expect our standards of living to keep pace; no reasons at all why we should have to suffer pay-cuts from a government that can no longer be bothered to represent the very people that voted them in.

Later today we will have the results from the UNISON ballot on a three year pay offer to staff working in the NHS. Let's hope that our sisters and brothers in the health service send an overwhelming message to the employers that we will not accept being continuously treated as though they do not matter. We all know that it is not managers and accountants that run public services; if they all disappeared tomorrow, schools would still open, patients and vulnerable people would still be cared for, roads would be swept, meals cooked and offices cleaned.

But if we don't come to work, we all know that everything would stop!

Bearing this in mind; bearing in mind that we all work hard to ensure that the job gets done and that services are delivered day in, day out, let's just ask ourselves one simple question;

Hands up everyone, if you think we should have to take a pay-cut?

Thought so!!