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HUNDREDS of thousands of workers will decide within hours whether to join the ranks of what is now poised to be the biggest co-ordinated public-sector strike in years.
Two million public-sector workers could now join a July 10 mass walkout with the result of a ballot of general union GMB’s 220,000 local government members revealed this week.
Unison, Unite and PCS members are also being balloted in protest at a pay offer worth 1 per cent for most local authority employees.
Members of teachers’ union NUT have backed a strike and will join the July 10 walkout if talks with ministers do not progress.
Speaking in Nottingham, GMB national officer Brian Strutton said: “Local government workers are the lowest-paid in the public sector — over half a million earn less than the living wage.
“The employers should invest in their workforce for a change instead of freezing council tax.
“The prospect is that up to two million public-sector workers will be on strike on July 10.”
Public-sector union PCS, whose members will be balloted on Thursday, said co-ordinated action was necessary to fend off attacks on public-sector pay.
“We have been saying for a long time that we need co-ordinated action so we welcome the other unions’ decisions,” said a spokesman.
And Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail urged her union’s members to vote for industrial action.
“Anger is mounting among the people who deliver the services we value and use every day,” she said.
“Faced with belligerent employers and a hostile government intent on driving down pay, it’s time to take a stand.
“This is why we are urging our members to vote for industrial action and campaigning with other unions for fair pay in the public sector.”
Mr Strutton predicted that councils would want to discuss emergency cover during any strike, but added: “If our members are essential for one day, they should be essential all year and be paid a decent wage.”
Liverpool branch secretary Ian Lowes, who proposed a motion at the conference calling for a pay campaign in conjunction with other unions, told the Morning Star: “The stronger the vote the more employers know you mean business.
“Our members have had three years of pay freezes and 1 per cent this year. Taken over that period it’s actually a pay cut.
“Bills are going up and people are sick and tired.”
NUT members from across England and Wales were in London to lobby their MPs yesterday on the issues facing teachers.
Their union says that if they are ignored they will join the walkout.
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