Unite announces council strikes following ‘dismissive and patronising’ letter
Unite has announced that its members in 4 Welsh local authorities will begin taking strike action in a dispute over pay.
Members of the union have overwhelmingly rejected the local authority employers’ pay offer of just £1,925, a poorer offer than last year, despite the cost-of-living crisis having worsened.
Altogether 23 councils and local authority bodies will take part in the strike action across Wales and England.
The Welsh councils who are part of the industrial action campaign are: Cardiff, Cynon Valley Waste, Gwynedd and Wrexham.
The first industrial action will involve Unite members at Chesterfield council who will strike next Wednesday and Thursday (30 and 31 August).
The other councils with industrial action mandates will then take strike action throughout September.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Council workers are on the frontline providing vital services to the communities they serve. It is simply unacceptable that workers have been forced onto the breadline due to years of real terms pay cuts.”
“Unite never takes a backward step in supporting its members and is dedicated to enhancing their jobs, pay and conditions. Unite will be providing its local authority members with its complete support.”
The English councils that have secured mandates for strike action are: Bath and North East Somerset, Chesterfield, Coventry, Cumberland, Darlington, Haringey, Ipswich, Newham, North Tyneside, Tower Hamlets, Truro, Sefton, Southwark, Warrington, Westminster and Wigan.
In addition, Tamar Bridge and Ferry Port, Greater Manchester Fire and Civil Defence and Derby Homes, whose workers are subject to local government pay, also voted in favour of strikes.
A survey of Unite members in local authorities, earlier this summer, highlighted how years of pay freezes and below inflation pay deals had resulted in workers facing desperate financial choices.
The survey found that almost half of workers have struggled to afford heating, electricity and water bills and 30 percent have struggled to afford food and clothing.
Almost a quarter (23 per cent) are skipping meals to save money
17 percent say they have struggled to meet rent and mortgage payments and Six percent have used food banks.
Tensions in the dispute have risen dramatically following a “dismissive and patronising” letter sent by local authority employers refusing to even enter into negotiations and stating its initial offer was “full and final”.
Unite national officer Clare Keogh said: “The dismissive and patronising response from local authority employers has resulted in tensions in the dispute dramatically increasing. Workers simply can’t make ends meet, yet employers are ignoring their plight.
“Local government employers need to get their heads out of the clouds and return to the negotiating table, to make an offer which begins to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.”
Following the initial September strikes, Unite will be escalating the industrial action throughout the autumn, with coordinated action, longer periods of strikes and more members joining the dispute.
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