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Unison votes for strike action

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Unison members have voted in favour of strike action in a dispute over pay.

The poll saw 49,836 (58.7%) Unison members vote for strike action while 35,062 (41.3%) voted against. There were 122 spoilt ballot papers.

LGC reported in April that members of the Unison and Unite unions had rejected local authorities’ offer of a 1% pay rise for most staff. GMB members followed suit last month.

Unison is the first trade union to announce strike action.

Dave Prentis, Unison’s general secretary, said: “These workers care for our elderly, clean our streets, feed and educate our school children and keep our libraries running, but they receive no recognition in their pay packets. 

“They are mainly low paid women workers, stressed and demoralised, and they deserve better from their employers and from this government. This is the group that has borne the brunt of the government’s austerity agenda.”

The next steps will be decided at an upcoming meeting of Unison’s national committee.

Asked by LGC for the turnout figures as a percentage, a Unison spokeswoman refused to say, adding that the union was not obliged to publish this figure.

However, a statement published on the union’s website last week said it was balloting 600,000 members. Using the voting figures above, this would equate to a turnout of about 14%.

Responding to the announcement, an LGA spokesman said: “It is disappointing that Unison will be proceeding with strike action.

“Local government staff have worked wonders while councils have been tackling the biggest funding cuts in living memory and we have no doubt that many will still be at work on the day of strike action.

“The pay offer we have made would increase the pay of most employees by 1% while the lowest paid would receive an increase of more than 4%. This is the fairest possible deal for our employees given the limits of what we can afford.

“This strike will not change the pay offer we have made, but it will mean those who take part lose a day’s pay.”

The Unite union is due to close its strike ballot on 30 June. GMB is also balloting members on industrial action, and has said it will hold a strike on 10 July if the ballot result is positive.



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