Strike is only option left in local government pay row

Your article ‘Plans for local government pay offer strike under fire’ (Personnel Today, 1 July) highlights some very contradictory claims by the employers. Jim Savege claims there had been a “relatively small” amount of dialogue with the union, while Phil White, head of negotiations, said there was no scope to increase the pay offer.

Unison was told in no uncertain terms that 2.45% was the final offer and no amount of talking would change that.

We would prefer to avoid industrial action but were left with little choice. We would be very happy to talk to the employers about an improved offer.

On the point about low turnout, there was a majority vote for action and we have assessed the mood of our members. If we thought for a moment that the result was not representative, we would not be pressing ahead for action. There would be little point in dragging a reluctant workforce into a dispute. Councils have been elected on similar turnouts.

Local government workers are very angry about what amounts to a pay cut. There is a strong determination to take industrial action unless we can achieve a sensible negotiated settlement. The ball is in the employers’ court.

Heather Wakefield, head of local government, Unison

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