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Local government workers' reps reject 2% pay offer
Glenn Kelly, Socialist Party industrial organiser
The fight for coordinated strike action to win fair pay for public sector workers took a step closer on 23 January when the elected Unison national committee for local government workers voted to recommend rejection of the 2% pay offer to its 600,000 members.
2% represents yet another pay cut with inflation running at 3.9%, and this comes on top of years of little or no pay rises. Local government pay has fallen by 21% in real terms since 2010.
This vote comes on top of the recent Unite the Union national local government committee decision to call for its members to reject the deal as well.
If the leadership were now to campaign vigorously for a rejection of the deal there is the real prospect of local government unions Unison and Unite joining the civil servants union PCS in the fight over pay this year.
However we should be under no illusions that there are those in Unison who will do all they can to undermine the vote. In the weeks leading up to the meeting the unelected national officer for local government toured the country trying to persuade regions to accept the deal.
Even at the meeting the national elected reps had to force a vote on the right to even debate the offer before a vote was taken on whether to accept or reject it. Despite the vote there is even talk now that the recommendation to reject won't even be put on the paperwork going out to members.
The reality is that winning a vote to reject the offer will have to be by a campaign waged locally and regionally by the branches and activists.
That campaign must start now, Unison members and branches should be approached to link up with Unite and the PCS in the pay protests called for 31 January.
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