Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 18 October 2003

The Socialist: What we think

London Workers Lead Fight For A Living Wage

LONDON POSTAL workers will be joining UNISON members working for London councils on strike on 16 October. Workers from 32 London boroughs will be coming together with 30,000 Communication Workers' Union (CWU) members in a one-day strike for a 4,000 London weighting allowance.

We completely oppose any government plans for regional pay bargaining, which would divide worker against worker and region against region. But since the 1920s it has been accepted that the higher cost of living in the capital has to be taken into account in any national pay agreement.

A united battle of public-sector workers in London would enormously strengthen the battle to defend the public sector all over the country.

UNISON's dispute with the London council employers has dragged on since the first strike ballot in May 2002. The union recently rejected an offer of a 201 increase for the lowest paid, which was accepted by the TGWU and GMB unions. But in a recent consultative ballot of UNISON members, 80% voted for more strike action. This is 10% more than in the first strike ballot.

London council workers are clearly furious at the employers' intransigence, at the same time as they fritter away millions on consultants, agencies, privatisation and generous 'allowances' to senior councillors and council bosses.

They are prepared to fight for a living wage, as are postal workers, shown by the solid support for the last London postal workers' strike on 1 October.

These workers cannot afford to live in London on their current wages. Postal workers currently get a 3,282 allowance in inner London and 2,038 in outer London - the 'inner' and 'outer' distinction in itself is now completely out of date and can result in postal workers in an office on one side of a road earning 1,000 more than those in an office on the other side. The current allowance in London boroughs for local authority workers is between 1,500 and 2,850.

The Metropolitan Police get 6,000 in London allowances, plus free travel over a wide commuting distance.

Higher costs

Figures produced by the CWU indicate that the cost of living in inner London is about 4,500 per year more than the rest of the UK. The average cost of a house bought by first-time buyers in London is now over 175,000 - you would need to be earning over 58,000 a year to afford this.

A study by the Labour Research Department in 1998 found that private rents were 2,000 per year more in London than the overall average for England.

Water rates and council tax on a three-bedroom terrace house are 38% higher than the UK average. Childcare costs 30% more. London workers commute for 110 minutes a day on average - equivalent to an extra day's unpaid overtime every week.

So it is no wonder that postal and council workers are determined to attain their modest demands for 4,000 across the board. Already many jobs are left vacant because people cannot afford to take them.

The union leaderships' agreement to organise joint strike action is welcome and it has had an inspiring effect on many of the workers involved. But there are many other public sector workers struggling to get by in London, who would jump at the chance of a united battle for a decent London cost-of-living allowance.

Teachers, firefighters, college lecturers and college support staff are all already involved in disputes over their pay rates in London. Civil servants and London Underground workers are now considering action on this issue.

Vacancies for health care workers are at record levels - some London trusts have 30% fewer nurses than they need and survive on agency nurses. Pay is the key factor in not being able to recruit health care staff in London.

Different unions representing different groups of workers in the public sector are organising their own pay campaigns, but united action across the whole public sector would enormously strengthen these campaigns.

That is why the Socialist Party is campaigning for a delegate conference of all London public-sector unions, to organise joint action. This action should include a one-day London-wide public-sector strike and demonstration. Different unions have different claims but the minimum London allowance should not be less than 4,000.

New Labour has declared war on the public sector. United action in London is an important part of the fightback.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 18 October 2003:

United Action To End Low Pay

Save Our Health Service

London Workers Lead Fight For A Living Wage

Stand Together To Scrap The SATS

Socialist Party news and analysis

Can The Nasty Party Win Again?

Fighting Women's Oppression

Socialist Alliance Trade Union Convention


Apparently it's all my fault...

Socialist Party feature

More Jailings But Deeper Anger

Greater Dublin City Bin service shut down!

Anti Bin Tax Campaigns Thank Bin Workers; Call for End to Non-Collection and Jailings

War and occupation

Iraq's 'Liberation' Nightmare

Protest Against Warmonger Bush

Democracy And The Stop The War Coalition

Socialist Party Marxist analysis

World economy: Will There Be A Recovery?


ISR conference:

Stop Fees Now!

International socialist news and analysis

Bolivia: A Movement Of Insurrectionary Scale

California: Last Action Hero Will Let Down Voters

Nigeria: General Strike Suspended After Government Backs Down

Poland: An Explosion Of Class Struggle


Home   |   The Socialist 18 October 2003   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:

Public sector:

triangleThe Tories must be driven out

triangleSurrey County Council staff on collision course over pay freeze

triangleEscalate summer strike wave into coordinated action to defeat the pay cap

triangleTUC congress 2017: time for action on pay

triangleTories retreat on pay cap


triangleTower Hamlets Socialist Party: "You can't have capitalism without racism" (Malcolm X)

triangleTower Hamlets Socialist Party: Capitalism in Crisis - is Corbyn the answer?

triangleWest London Socialist Party: Young people need socialism!

triangleJustice for Tube cleaners demo


triangleWorkplace news in brief

triangleCWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

trianglePoverty, repression and fightback on the docks

Postal workers:

triangleSet for national strike action

triangleDoncaster: snap strike by posties pushes bully bosses back


triangleThem & Us


triangleSalford Unison condemns pay cuts

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



Justice for Tube cleaners demo



Salford Unison condemns pay cuts


Royal Mail

CWU fights court attempt to stop national strike



Carlisle NHS campaigners hand in petition to MP



Don't wreck our rec! Campaigning to save green space in Standish



No more fire deaths - ensure safety now!



Cardiff Socialist Students confront 'Parasite' Jacob Rees-Mogg


John McDonnell

Manchester rally discussed unionisation and nationalisation



Join the Orgreave Halloween rally



Workplace news in brief


Democratic rights

Who's watching who?: The fight for justice, trade union and democratic rights


Northern Ireland

Boeing bust-up threatens thousands of skilled jobs



Too much to cross the Mersey


Royal Mail

Set for national strike action



Supporting the general strike in Catalonia

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party out the Tories

triangle11 Oct CWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

triangle11 Oct The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against...

triangle11 Oct Catalonia: Workers can finish what Puigdemont won't

triangle6 Oct Boeing bust-up threatens thousands of skilled jobs

triangle4 Oct The nasty party turns on itself... but the Tories must be driven out

More ...

triangle16 Oct Teesside Socialist Party: After the party conferences

triangle17 Oct London: TUC lobby & rally; and London march

triangle18 Oct Warrington & St Helens Socialist Party: 1917-2017; the October Russian Revolution

triangle18 Oct Hackney Socialist Party: 100 years ago - the Bolshevik-led revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice