Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/480/2218
Council unions reject 2% pay offer
UNISON AND the other unions representing local government workers have rejected the employers' pay offer of 2%. In so doing they have defied the 2% public-sector pay freeze imposed by New Labour chancellor Gordon Brown.
Roger Bannister, UNISON national executive, personal capacity
With inflation already running at 4.6%, this pay offer represents a cut in real earnings for millions of workers, including hundreds of thousands of low-paid workers.
The claim is for: a one-year deal of 5% or £1,000 a year, a minimum hourly rate of £6.30, one extra day's leave, a minimum of 25 days' leave, a 35-hour week, increased night shift allowance and increased sleep-in allowance.
It is significant that Gordon Brown's imposed pay restraint was announced within hours of press speculation that hard-line supporters of Tony Blair were considering running a candidate against Brown in the forthcoming Labour leadership contest. In a shabby attempt to "out-Blair the Blairites" Brown announced this attack on public-sector workers, a cheap attempt to curry favour with the party's right wing.
Local government is a predominantly low-paid service, with 60% of employees earning below £15,825 per year, £8,000 below the average wage. Treasury forecasts predict that average earnings will increase by 5.5% this year. In local government, senior managers' pay has already increased by 6%, in stark contrast to the treatment meted out to their long-suffering staff.
Local government achieved £3 billion savings last year, (cuts to most of us!). This massive under-funding of the service and its employees has to stop.
The unions have rejected the 2% offer but are continuing to negotiate with the employers. Unless it becomes clear very soon that the employers are prepared to put more money on the table, they should be preparing to ballot the members for action.
In The Socialist 29 March 2007:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
What we think
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party feature
Northern Ireland agreement
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news