Unison’s local government members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland voted last week to strike by a 55% to 45% majority after rejecting a 2.45% pay rise.
The union’s negotiating team is due to meet tomorrow to recommend its preferred course of action to the industrial action committee, which is due to make a final decision on Friday (27 June).
Unison’s head of local government Heather Wakefield said the result paved the way for “sustained and escalating strike action”. She said rising food, fuel and utility bills were leaving many workers “in poverty”.
General secretary Dave Prentis said: “This is a solid vote for action and a clear message to the local government employers that our members are willing to fight for a decent pay rise.
“They are fed up and angry that they are expected to accept pay cut after pay cut, while bread and butter prices go through the roof.”
But Brian Baldwin, chair of the employers’ side of the local government negotiating body, said industrial action would not change the fact that the 2.45% deal was “our final offer”.
He said going on strike could have “serious implications for some of the most vulnerable people in society”.
“The settlement on the table was affordable both to the taxpayer and councils while at the same time made sure that local government continued to be an attractive place to work,” he added.
“If the pay settlement was set any higher, then councils will be forced into making unpalatable choices between cutting front line services and laying off staff. Neither unions nor employers would want either of these options.”
The vote came after the chancellor Alistair Darling urged people “from the boardroom to the shop floor” to accept pay rises “consistent” with the government’s 2% inflation target.
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