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Council staff in fresh strike action

Three unions agree to escalate dispute over pay with joint walkout

By Claire Williamson

Council workers are to stage a fresh strike over pay across the UK including Northern Ireland.

Unions representing 1.3 million local government workers – GMB, Unison and Unite – have agreed to escalate their dispute over pay with a campaign running into the autumn.

The three unions have agreed that their members will run a co-ordinated strike of their local government and school members in Northern Ireland, England and Wales on Tuesday, October 14. The workers, including librarians, cleaners, refuse collectors, teaching assistants and school meals staff all went on strike on July 10 in protest at a 1% pay offer.

Picket lines were seen at many local government facilities in one of the biggest walkouts for many years.

Unions have said that no further talks have taken place since that date, "despite the unions offering to go to the Government's arbitration and conciliation service".

Brian Strutton, GMB national secretary for public Ssrvices, said: "Our members in GMB, Unison and Unite expect us to maximise our joint effectiveness and that's why we are announcing the next strike together.

Our members deserve a fair pay deal and we have to fight together to achieve that.

"Council leaders should reconsider their parsimonious pay offer and do the right thing by their staff."

Heather Wakefield, Unison head of local government, said "Employers and Government must be left in no doubt that we are serious in this dispute.

"As sister unions, we stand together to make sure that our members are treated with decency and respect.

"Our members cannot afford to carry on propping up local services through their pay packets. Many are low paid women who are being forced to resort to food banks and payday loan sharks just to survive.

"We need to put the heart back into local government by paying a living wage."

Fiona Farmer, Unite national officer, said "Local government workers have had years of real pay cuts, working harder to deliver vital local services while being paid less and struggling to make ends meet. Low paid members unable to afford basic essentials are having to choose between heating and eating.

"On 1st October the national minimum wage will overtake local government pay scales; we need fair pay not poverty pay."

The next strike is scheduled to take place just days before the Trade Union Congress (TUC) organised national demonstration on October 18.

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