Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/262/24645
Council workers say...
Strike Back Against Low Pay
THE DECISIVE votes for strike action by members of UNISON, GMB and TGWU working for local councils, reflects their growing anger over low pay. This is on top of the thousands of council workers mobilised to fight for higher London Weighting payments.
Brian Blake, service conditions officer, Ealing UNISON, personal capacity
Public sector workers' pay has been eroded over the years, especially in local government and workers are no longer prepared to tolerate cuts in their living standards.
The stage is now set for a battle between council workers and the employers, which will include the government.
Council workers are angry that other public sector workers have been given some pay concessions, as 'essential' workers but they have not.
Whenever the government talks about 'essential workers' they always mention nurses, teachers, the police etc but never local authority workers or ancillary staff.
Many council workers live on less than £13,000 a year and have to do two jobs to make ends meet. I have had members come to me in tears saying that after paying all their bills they only have £10 a month to live on.
That is why this action is so important. The claim for 6% or £1,750, whichever is greater, would bring the lowest paid up to at least £5 an hour. Still not enough but at least the minimum demand of the trade union movement and would be a step towards the European decency threshold of £7.50 an hour.
In London the call for £4,000 flat rate London Weighting would be an improvement. Though this would still be far short of the real cost of living in London.
The government talks about 'reforming' the public sector. This is just New Labour-speak for privatisation.
They don't really want to improve public services, this would mean putting in more resources. All they're interested in is giving opportunities for their big business friends to make a profit.
- For a fully-funded pay increase of 6% or £1,750 per year, whichever is greater.
- End privatisation of the public services.
- Step up the action to win the claim.
In The Socialist 12 July 2002: