Local government workers are set for a sustained period of strike action after voting to walk out in a row over pay.
Members of the Unison union in local government in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have voted by 55% to 45% for strike action following a 2.45% pay offer. However, turnout for the vote was only 27%.
The joint unions’ pay claim was for 6% or 50p an hour whichever was the greater.
Workers likely to walk out include social workers, housing benefit workers, rent collectors, refuse workers, school meals staff, teaching assistants, cooks, cleaners, architects and surveyors.
The union’s negotiating team are meeting today (Tuesday) to decide what action to recommend to Unison leaders.
General secretary Dave Prentis said: “This is a solid vote for action and a clear message to the local government employers that our members are willing to fight for a decent pay rise.
“They are fed up and angry that they are expected to accept pay cut after pay cut, while bread-and-butter prices go through the roof. Most of them are low paid workers, who are hit hardest by food and fuel price hikes and they see the unfairness of boardroom bonanzas and big City bonuses,”
Brian Baldwin, who chairs the pay negotiations for Local Government Employers, said: “Unison must give very serious consideration as to whether it wants to take council employees out on strike action when only 13% of their membership voted for it.
“The settlement on the table was affordable both to the taxpayer and councils while at the same time made sure that local government continued to be an attractive place to work.”
In Scotland, the union will ballot more than 100,000 Unison members next month for industrial action, after they rejected a three-year offer worth 2.5% per year.