Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/815/18780
Strike back for a living wage
Mike Forster, Unison local government service group executive member (personal capacity)
Last week I got a text from a worried workmate: "1,400 redundancies, what we going to do mate?" "We will have to fight" was my response as we discussed the announcement that 1,400 jobs are to go from Kirklees council. Across the country, councils - Labour and Tory alike - are continuing the jobs slaughter as they settle back into office after the local elections.
To the question: 'when are we going to get a pay rise?', the stock response is 'at least you have a job'. But how much more can we take? The politicians, financiers and the media tell us that the recovery is well underway and will be long-lasting. So why should we have to endure further wage restraint and an escalation of redundancies in the public sector?
Our Labour council has ripped up almost every agreement with the union, and accuses us of being 'out of touch' for wanting to negotiate a policy of no compulsory redundancies. A storm is brewing, and workplace meetings indicate that staff have had enough.
The pending pay strike on 10 July cannot come soon enough. The Unison ballot result is expected on 23 June but all indications are that we will have a yes vote. The National Union of Teachers will join us on the day, hopefully along with Unite, GMB and PCS who are also balloting.
Council reserves are at an all-time high. Kirklees has underspent every year for the last seven years. After the local elections, the Local Government Association is now under Labour control. If Labour is serious about a living wage, it will negotiate with us for a better deal - our claim is for a £1 an hour increase to make up for the 18% fall over the last three years.
Several Socialist Party members have been elected to Unison's service group executives (see page 9). We will be fighting for the full claim and for a clear calendar of action which can restore confidence in the fighting ability of the union.
It's time to put Labour to the test and, more importantly, to claw back a decent living wage from local authorities which have got away with way too much in axing vitally needed jobs and services.
"Fight together for a pay rise"
Come to the National Shop Stewards Network conference
11am-5pm, Saturday 5 July
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, Holborn, London WC1R 4RL
Delegate/visitor fee £6
In The Socialist 18 June 2014:
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