UNISON is to ballot for industrial action among the 400,000 council and school staff it represents in England, Wales and Northern Ireland over what the union says is an “inadequate” pay offer from employers.
Nationally, an overwhelming majority (79%) of UNISON members who took part in a month-long consultation exercise voted to reject the 1.75% offer, with 82% voting to reject in the South East region. The union says this falls well short of the 10% claim put forward for this year with GMB and Unite.
UNISON believes it is not too late for local government employers to think again and improve the increase offered to staff who have worked through the worst of times.
Members will now be asked to vote ‘yes’ to taking action in support of the union’s campaign for better pay.
UNISON deputy head of local government Mike Short said: “Council and school workers have made clear the strength of feeling about their pay.
“They’ve been the unsung heroes of the pandemic, working tirelessly and often at risk to their own health to serve their communities.
“Staff carried on working throughout successive lockdowns, keeping people’s neighbourhoods clean and safe, ensuring schools remained open and looking after the most vulnerable.
“But council and school employees have also seen the value of their pay reduced by a quarter since 2010. The recent hike in the cost of living means their wages are falling further and further behind.
“An offer of just 1.75% is totally inadequate for workers who’re already among the lowest paid in the country. Their efforts and sacrifices should be better recognised and rewarded.”