The Socialist

The Socialist 13 December 2017

Save our NHS

The Socialist issue 975

Brexit deal no solution to Tory rifts

Labour 'purge' furore really just democracy


A world in crisis, ripe for revolution

Trump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian conflict

110 years ago: massacre at Santa Maria school in Chile - commemorate 21 December 1907


Save our NHS

Two in five 'right to buy' homes now for let

Retail sector crunch: nationalise to save jobs

Uni market 'failure', two-year degrees - end cuts, scrap fees!

Them & Us


Local government pay: fight for the 5% claim, fully funded

Strikers rally in Liverpool

Unite day of action against blacklisting

Brighton victory

Anti-DOO lobby of Liverpool's transport committee

Teachers strike in Sheffield

Newham anti-academies strikes


Tory plan to hold dinner at coal mining museum defeated

Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

South London health bosses' cover-up

Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

Bradford campaign to save children's services launched

Tamil Solidarity and Refugee Rights activists meeting


The Socialist's 2017 quiz

 
 
 
 
 

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Birmingham striking bin workers and supporters rally, 17.9.17, photo Dave Nellist

Birmingham striking bin workers and supporters rally, 17.9.17, photo Dave Nellist   (Click to enlarge)

Local government pay: fight for the 5% claim, fully funded

Glenn Kelly

Over a million council and school workers have been waiting to see if there would be any relief from their constant falling living standards as they have watched their pay fall by 21% in real terms since 2010.

After a decade of little or no pay awards and the unions not delivering more, it is entirely understandable that there will be union members who will think that the 2% now being offered is ok.

But the brutal truth is that it is in reality yet another pay cut and one that can't be recommended.

Last June Unison, Unite and the GMB submitted a claim for 5% for all (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) with the promise that they would fight to smash the pay cap.

After the general election result the government came under increasing pressure to break the pay cap across the public sector and even the local government employers were supporting the claim for higher pay.

Last week (5th December) the local government employers announced their pay offer to the unions, breaking the 1% pay cap.

All workers earning over 10.27 an hour are being offered a 2% rise this year and 2% next year. However this is just 20p an hour increase at the bottom of the grades, before tax and national insurance deductions.

School funding cuts lobby, London, 24 October, photo Nick Chaffey

School funding cuts lobby, London, 24 October, photo Nick Chaffey   (Click to enlarge)

With the RPI inflation rate currently running at 4%, once again workers are being asked to take another year of pay cuts and this offer will do nothing to make up for the thousands of pounds lost in a decade or more of pay cuts.

For those local authority workers who have been privatised or shipped off to the voluntary sector or academies, they may not even benefit from this pitiful rise.

The offer is being praised by the Labour leader in the Local Government Association (and by some trade union leaders) because there will be pay rises of up to 16% over two years for the very lowest paid.

In fact only 3,485 workers would benefit from this level of increase of 72p an hour next year. While this is obviously to be welcomed, what they fail to mention however, is that the real reason why they have had to increase the rate of those earning as little as 7.78 an hour by more than the 2% offer is because the pay of the lowest paid council workers has fallen so far that local government employers were in danger of falling foul of the Tories' own legal Living Wage figure of 9 per hour that must be introduced by 2020.

As if the deal wasn't bad enough, there is no additional funding being offered to fund it. It is estimated to put 5.8% on the pay bill over the next two years.

Without extra funding it is not an exaggeration to say that we could see councils and schools giving pay rises on a Monday only to hand out redundancy notices on a Friday to pay for them.

Heather Wakefield, the head of Unison in local government, said: "The government must now come up with the cash to fund local government properly so councils have the money to give their staff a wage increase that doesn't put more services or jobs at risk."

The question many Unison members will ask is: what is the union strategy to force the government to fund even this pitiful offer, let alone fight for the full claim?

photo Paul Mattsson

photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

The national local government Labour Party leader, Councillor Nick Forbes, was called "a hypocrite" by his own local union leaders in Newcastle when he said: "We unreservedly welcome the local government employers' decision to recognise the hardship faced by council workers in recent years, to offer 2% for the next two years".

That is because Newcastle council, where he is the council leader, has only budgeted for a 1% increase in staff salaries for 2018, and its Director of Resources made a point of briefing staff that any increase beyond 1% would put an extra 2 million on the council's staffing budget and would have to be paid for elsewhere.

The unions are considering their response to the offer. Already there is talk of accepting it and just campaigning for the government to fund it.

Socialist Party members in Unison and Unite have been arguing that the local government unions should join with the PCS civil servants' union and start a real fight for the full claim, fully funded, by beginning national consultative ballots; and for the TUC to bring forward the national demonstration it has called for 12th May.

PCS has correctly used its consultative ballot result to call for the public sector unions to come together as they did in 2011 on pensions, and coordinate strike ballots.

But it rightly will also continue to prepare its own members to ensure that they are ready if and when it is necessary to move to a statutory industrial action ballot.

Members and activists of unions in local government and the NHS must link up with those in PCS to ensure that some union leaders do not stop the public sector pay battle before it has even begun.


This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 8 December 2017 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.


In this issue


What we think

Brexit deal no solution to Tory rifts

Labour 'purge' furore really just democracy


International socialist news and analysis

A world in crisis, ripe for revolution

Trump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian conflict

110 years ago: massacre at Santa Maria school in Chile - commemorate 21 December 1907


Socialist Party news and analysis

Save our NHS

Two in five 'right to buy' homes now for let

Retail sector crunch: nationalise to save jobs

Uni market 'failure', two-year degrees - end cuts, scrap fees!

Them & Us


Socialist Party workplace news

Local government pay: fight for the 5% claim, fully funded

Strikers rally in Liverpool

Unite day of action against blacklisting

Brighton victory

Anti-DOO lobby of Liverpool's transport committee

Teachers strike in Sheffield

Newham anti-academies strikes


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Tory plan to hold dinner at coal mining museum defeated

Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

South London health bosses' cover-up

Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

Bradford campaign to save children's services launched

Tamil Solidarity and Refugee Rights activists meeting


Christmas Quiz

The Socialist's 2017 quiz


 

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