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From The Socialist newspaper, 4 October 2007

Local government pay offer: It's time for action

Once more workers in the public sector are finding themselves being forced to take action to hold back the rising tide of New Labour attacks. After months of wrangling, local government workers in Unison are to be balloted on taking industrial action over the employers' pathetically low pay offer of 2.475%.

Marc Glasscoe, branch secretary, Lincoln City Unison, personal capacity

Inflation is currently at around 4.1%, while some of our most basic household expenditure such as food and utility bills are rocketing. Year after year, council tax is rising by as much as they can get away with.

Since New Labour came to power in 1997 house prices, and therefore mortgages, have risen by 156%. Wages, on the other hand, have risen by 35%.

Workers are being expected to somehow make their wages stretch even further to just maintain their current standard of living. With the amount of personal debt in Britain now higher than the national GDP, it is quite clear that this isn't working. We can no longer watch the cost of living rise while our wages stay still. The time has come for us to take a stand.

In an attempt to dress up the offer, and appeal to the union's values of fair play for the low paid, the employers have added an additional offer of 3.4% for the very lowest paid in local government to raise the lowest pay point to 6 per hour.

Aside from the fact that 6 per hour is still a pitifully low wage (Unison itself campaigns for a minimum wage of 6.75), this will benefit very few people. It is a blatant attempt at trying to make the vast majority of the workforce appear greedy and unreasonable. When you consider that MPs are on a starting rate of 60,675, it paints a slightly different picture!

Many workers are understandably concerned about the prospect of taking two days of strike action just before Christmas. Many have asked why it has taken so long to reach this point when it has been clear for months that the employers were not prepared to move.

At Unison Local Government conference in June, Socialist Party members argued the case for rejecting the employers' 2% pay offer and moving straight to an industrial action ballot, as time would soon be against us. The union leaders, lacking confidence in the members, preferred to continue with consultation. The members came back with a resounding NO to the 2% offer, and are in no mood now to accept a pathetic 0.475% extra.

If we show strength now, the sacrifices we have to make will soon be shown to be worth it.

Unison members in local government need to mobilise and vote massively in favour of strike action against this derisory pay offer of 2.475%. Only by sending a clear message to the employers and the Labour government can we hope to shift them and show that we will not accept any more attacks on our conditions. We need to show them that we will not take any more cuts in our living standards without a fight!

In recent years we have seen attacks on workers' pension schemes, job cuts in the civil service, changes to terms and conditions of service and the privatisation and sell-off of our public services.

We need to say enough is enough! It is time to send a clear message that we will not accept any more attacks on our pay and conditions. Reject this below-inflation pay offer and vote YES for strike action!

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
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  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 4 October 2007:

Support postal workers: decisive action can win

"We've had the battle - now this is war!"

Protests make bosses ditch closure plan


War and terrorism

Iraq: end the occupation nightmare

Stop the War Coalition (STWC) national demonstration


Editorial and comment

Tory party fears an autumn election

Banking turmoil continues

Corporate Labour


Socialist Party NHS campaign

Come to the NHS demo!

Swansea meeting


Socialist Party news and analysis

Classroom assistants on strike

Supermarket price-fixing scandal

Success! Double whammy for nursery campaign


Socialist Party features

EU's anti-working class 'reforms'

Fighting nuclear power


Socialist Students

Students want to fight back


Socialist Party feature

Che Guevara - revolutionary fighter


Socialist Party events

Socialism 2007: Ideas for our future

Socialism 2007.net


International socialist news and analysis

Burma: Dictatorship under threat


Socialist Party reviews and comment

QPR buy-out - Reclaim the game!

It's a free world, a film by Ken Loach

Anno 1701 - Dawn of Discovery


Socialist Party workplace news

Local government pay offer: It's time for action

Remploy workers win partial victory

Care workers on strike

National Shop Stewards Network makes plans


 

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