Unions will have to consider sustained action to up offer

p7 10 AprilLocal government social workers will have to consider sustained industrial action to avoid a sub-inflationary pay rise for 2008-9, union leaders have said.

The warning comes after employers made a “final offer” of 2.45% last week to more than one million council staff in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a small increase on its original 2.2% offer.

However, the offer is still below the government’s chosen measure of inflation, the consumer price index, which stood at 2.5% at the last count, and well below the broader retail price index (4.1%) and the unions’ claim (6%).

The unions – Unison, GMB and Unite – made clear they regarded the offer as hugely disappointing, but believe it would take sustained industrial action to force an improvement. They are consulting members over the next month on the offer.

GMB national secretary Brian Strutton said: “We want our stewards, activists and members to think hard about this below-inflation offer and to come back with their considered views.

“One of the judgements we have to form is that it will have to take sustained industrial action to stand a chance of making any difference. This is clearly as far as the employers are going to go.”

However, Community Care understands the employers believe industrial action is unlikely because of a lack of willingness among the workforce for a fight over pay.

Local Government Employers head of pay negotiations Phil White said: “We have reached the level of affordability for the vast majority of authorities. It is not a phrase that is used lightly. It is unlikely there would be any change in our position, even in the face of strike action.”

In addition to a pay rise of 2.45%, the offer includes an intention to conclude negotiations for the 2009 and 2010 pay settlements by the end of the year.

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