Unsion’s strike for higher London weighting may be first of many

Unison members across London held a one-day
strike last week to campaign for higher London weighting

The public service union is calling for higher
weighting payments to bring workers in line with other public
sector workers in London and is threatening further strike action –
possibly for two days -Ênext month.

Julian Cooke, a spokesperson for Greater
London Unison, said the strike was a great success and early
indications showed there was action in all of the 32 London
boroughs. In central London 3,000 people marched from Temple to the
TUC headquarters at Congress House, to join a rally there.

Cooke said 70 per cent of the 58,000 members
of Unison in London had voted in favour of the strike.

But Sir Robin Wales, chairperson of the
Association of London Government, said the impact of strikes on
London’s council services was minimal: “The essential services such
as emergency social work teams, home care and meals on wheels
services were kept running.”

Currently, workers in the inner city receive a
London weighting of around £2,600, with a payment for outer
London of about £1,400 a year.

Cooke said police in London received a total
of £6,000 through various allowances, and senior London nurses
received over £4,000.

Unison is calling for a flat rate of
£4,000 to apply to both inner and outer London workers.

“The flat rate would help poorer workers and
get rid of the inner and outer London concepts,” Cooke said.

The ALG said it could not afford the increase.
“Unison is shaking an empty piggy bank. Councils simply don’t have
the £250m needed to meet its pay demands,” Wales said.

“It would mean either increasing London
council tax by £90 per household each year, cutting the
equivalent of 11,000 full-time jobs or cutting council services,”
he added.

But Unison argues that employers are paying
double rates for agency staff.

Wales responded: “We [the ALG] urge Unison to
keep talking and work with us to look at ways to make it easier to
attract and retain staff, so we can continue to provide Londoners
with the high quality services they deserve.”

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