Unison pay strike, photo Paul Mattsson, photo Paul Mattsson

Unison pay strike, photo Paul Mattsson, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Bill Green, Unison member (personal capacity)

My union branch undertook a survey after 12 months of lockdown. It found that two-thirds of staff were working more than the set 36 hours a week. More than half had experienced stress symptoms, and almost half were actively thinking about changing their jobs. Bullying and inflexible managers were rife.

And that’s before we even come on to pay!

After a ‘final’ offer from the national employers of 1.75%, Unison held a consultative ballot. The offer is, in reality, a pay cut, with inflation running towards 4 %. In my branch, only eight people voted that this was acceptable. We are now gearing up for a national ballot for strike action. There is a feeling that someone, somewhere needs telling how bad things are for many of our very low-paid members – as no one is listening. This strike ballot might just be the way our employers and the government can be made to listen.

The pandemic has brought a new understanding to people of how important their jobs are. Whether you are a care worker, struggling to get around your clients every day, or school support staff, or someone overseeing vaccination and testing centres, or just back-up staff, you now know that your job is crucial to making society work. They can’t do it without us. So why are they so reluctant to pay us a decent wage? Because to pay workers a decent wage cuts away at the money this corrupt government is quietly filtering away to their cronies who fund the Conservative Party and deliver worthless test-and-trace and PPE contracts.

This could definitely be the winter where low-paid council workers join with others to force a decent wage rise for their efforts.