More than 800,000 council workers have started consultation on industrial action over a derisory 1 per cent pay deal proposed by their employers.
On Monday a national meeting of shop stewards and workplace representatives from general union GMB called on its 220,000 local authority members to reject the 1 per cent and vote for industrial action.
Since the coalition government took power in 2010 council workers’ wages in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have fallen by 18 per cent in real terms. They have also suffered 440,000 job losses.
GMB national secretary for public services Brian Strutton said: “Council staff have had only a 1 per cent pay rise in the last five years and it is a terrible indictment that the national minimum wage has caught up with them.
“It’s scandalous to think that people who work for councils could not legally be paid any less, yet day in and day out they serve their communities in schools and academies, care homes, emptying bins and cleaning streets, protecting vulnerable children and all the other jobs they do.”
While authorities have suffered from coalition budget-cutting exercises, GMB believes that they not only took council tax freezes lying down but squirrelled cash away in reserves.
“GMB believes it is high time to say ‘enough is enough’ and we are confident our members want to show their anger and frustration by rejecting the paltry 1 per cent offer and opting instead for industrial action,” said Mr Strutton.
Public service union Unison, with more than 600,000 members working for local authorities, also launched an “indicative” ballot late last week to test the mood for a full-scale ballot on industrial action.
It submitted a claim for a £1.20 an hour increase which would take its lowest-paid members up to the level of the “living wage” outside London — £7.65 an hour.
Unison head of local government Heather Wakefield said: “We are seeing a growing number of workers forced to rely on food banks and in-work benefits as a result of continuous pay freezes and
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