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Council Unions lodge dispute with the employers over pay claim – time to prepare for action!

Council Unions lodge dispute with the employers over pay claim – time to prepare for action!

Unite, Unison, GMB

Unite, Unison, GMB

By a council worker in Coventry

News is coming out that the three council unions – Unite, GMB and Unison, have lodged a formal dispute with the local government employers over the 2014/15 pay claim.

According to Unison, the employers have cancelled any further talks as they want to wait to see what the new minimum wage will be. The minimum wage is due to be increased in October of this year.

This is a complete insult to local government workers – our pay has fallen by 18 per cent since 2010 if you take inflation in to account.

Last year we got a measly 1 per cent increase, which in real terms was a pay cut. After the Coalition came in to power, all public sector workers earning under £21,000 were supposed to get a £250 payment. The local government employers refused to pay this. Our local Labour council, despite budgeting for this payment, scandalously refused to pay.

We are suffering  massive cuts with worse to come. We are doing more for less pay. That rule doesn’t seem to apply to the bankers or the politicians though!

The leaderships of the three council unions need to give a lead. The employers have made it abundantly clear that they will not be meeting our claim of an increase of £1.20 per hour. We need to prepare for action. Now is the time to fight. This isn’t just about pay but about jobs and indeed the whole future of public services.

In October, we wrote

‘Members and activists within the 3 unions need to discuss how we can win a decent pay rise. We need to link the fight for a decent pay rise to that of saving jobs and services as they are very much part of the same battle. We saw on 30th November 2011 that when the unions co-ordinate their action, the fantastic effect that had on members. It was only the decision of the leaderships of the big unions to end the strike action that destroyed the momentum that had been built up. That can’t be allowed to happen again.’

Recent years have unfortunately shown that the old adage ‘weakness invites aggression’ to be true, as a lack of a national fightback from the leaderships of Unison, Unite and GMB to defends jobs and services has only encouraged further attacks on our members.

The employer needs to know that the unions are serious about fighting this latest attack – lets follow the lead of unions like the RMT who have shown that action gets results.

–          Fight for the full pay claim

–          No to attacks on jobs and services

–          Prepare for nationally co-ordinated action

Coventry protest says ‘Defend education!’

Coventry protest says ‘Defend education’

The protest outside the Department for Education

The protest outside the Department for Education

A protest took place this evening outside the offices of the Department for Education in Coventry. It was organised by the NUT with other unions also in attendance, including NASUWT, Unison, Unite and Coventry TUC. The Socialist Party were also present. It coincided with industrial action  by teachers taking place in the North West today.

Main article from our latest bulletin – reject the 1% pay offer

Main article from our latest bulletin – reject the 1% pay offer

pay

The article below is taken from issue 17 of our bulletin for council workers in Coventry. The ballot in Unison has closed and the vote nationally was to accept. We will be posting an article on this next week. The results for GMB and Unite are expected soon. We think this article outlines why the offer should have been rejected, but just as importantly, the sort of approach that the unions should have taken with regard to pay. Socialists in the council unions will continue the struggle for fighting, democratic trade unions and for a combative socialist response to the cuts. If you want to help us in this important work, get in touch. Email covcouncilsocialists@gmail.com

Issue 17

Reject the pay offer! 1 per cent is an insult!

The three council unions, Unite, Unison and GMB are currently consulting their memberships in local government over the 1 per cent pay offer from the employers.

Council workers have not had a pay rise since 2009, and even in that year the award was just 1 per cent. As living costs have risen, we have got worse and worse off as we fall further and further behind. Coupled with the lack of a pay award that keeps up with rising day to day expenses has been the almost constant threat of redundancy, pension attacks, increased monitoring of performance, an over the top sickness policy, and much more. According to a Unison circular prior to a 2013 award, real headline pay is 14% below its 1996 levels.

Coventry City Council still owes us our £250

We were promised by the Chancellor that all public sector workers earning under £21,000 would receive £250 (a sort of sop for not giving us a proper pay increase) but we are yet to even receive this. By the way, let us not forgot that Coventry City Council budgeted for this increase but said they would not pay it, the money that was ear marked for us is somewhere in their coffers!

Fight needed for pay, jobs, public services

In the context of no pay award since 2009, there may be some union members who feel we should just take anything we can, and if we for go a pay award or take a minimal one, then our jobs are more likely to be saved. In reality this is not the case. For one, showing that we are not up for a battle over pay means they are more likely to come for our jobs and terms and conditions. A serious campaign over pay would be a serious declaration of intent. Perhaps more importantly, the bottom line is we need a pay award that makes a difference. Many council workers are struggling to pay rent, bills, mortgages. This needs to change.

What do we need to do?

The offer needs to be rejected. It is not acceptable. 1 per cent does not come anywhere near close to what we need. Unfortunately the national leaderships of the three unions are not recommending rejection and for the building of a serious campaign. They are not saying it is a good offer but ‘the best that is achievable by negotiation’ and that if we reject ‘ only sustained, all-out strike action could bring the employers back to the negotiating table.’ This is a complete and utter abdication of leadership. They are saying if we, the members, vote to reject then the apocalypse will come crashing down around us! Why aren’t our union leaders calling for a rejection, and then trying to link up with other trade unions who are in dispute with the government and looking to take action, such as PCS the civil service union?

If given a lead by our national unions then the members will respond. But in the meantime, all members should vote to reject the offer. And yes it may mean industrial action. But if the years since the Coalition came to power have taught us anything, it is that rational discussion and putting logical arguments to the employers alone will not get us anywhere. We need to start to use our collective power, to fight for decent pay, jobs and our public services. Council unions should build links with the PCS, NUT and any other unions willing to fight to take action.

Vote to reject the offer

Fight for decent pay, jobs and services