Council staff across England, Wales and Northern Ireland could take industrial action from 14 November over pay, Unison said today.
A spokesperson said this would be the earliest day on which the 850,000 Unison local government members could strike, after its industrial action committee yesterday formally authorised a strike ballot.
The ballot will close on 26 October, making 14 November the earliest day on which action could take place, given the need to give employers notice.
After six months of negotiation, employers increased their offer for 2007-8 from 2% to 2.475% last month and claimed this was as much councils could afford without cutting services or jobs.
The increased offer is also above the government’s recommended 2% public sector pay target, designed to contain inflation. Unison’s fellow local government unions GMB and Unite, which together represent about 350,000 staff, have decided to consult members on the offer, rather than ballot for industrial action.
But Unison’s local government negotiators recommended an industrial action ballot. Its head of local government, Heather Wakefield, pointed out that the widest measure of inflation – the retail price index – was 4.1% in August, and added: “I don’t want to see local government pay falling further behind the rest of the public sector and the private sector. Our members’ morale is low”.
She urged employers to resolve the situation by returning to talks.