Solidarity 3/12, 12 September 2002
Keep up the pressure
The GMB, TGWU and Unison have been consulting their members in local government on an ACAS-brokered two-year pay deal. Most branches have organised an "indicative" ballot of their members. The union leaderships are recommending acceptance. The consultation will end on 16 September.
The proposed deal averages out at just over 3.5% a year for two years and a promise of a pay commission. Even the much hyped increases for the lower scales are not much - just over a 50p increase an hour over the next two years. This compared to the union's pay claim of 6% or £1,750 per year.
There is some disquiet that the union leaderships are recommending throwing away the gains of the successful one-day strike in July and the massive support of the public. Many branch leaderships in Unison have rejected the deal but it remains to be seen whether this opposition has been well organised and connected to the branch membership.
If the deal is rejected the action needs to be stepped up with a two-day and three-day stoppage. We should also look at taking out members in selective areas to hurt the councils' income. There is also a great opportunity to link up with other workers such as the teachers, the firefighters and railworkers in united strike action.
Whether the deal is accepted or not, the unions must still put in joint pay claims in all sectors including the privatised companies. The linking together of the unions at a local level must continue.
London still weighting
The London Weighting local pay dispute is still on, regardless of what happens in the national dispute. The employers have offered absolutely nothing on the existing scale. This is despite all official reports, including a GLA one, saying that local government workers deserve a big increase because of the cost of living and working in the capital. The unions are asking for £4,000 a year.
Unison members have already taken three days of strike action on this issue. The other unions weren't part of that action but the GMB and TGWU have now balloted their membership and got massive yes votes to take action alongside Unison members in the future. This must be acted on. We need a joint rolling programme of strike action. There are also areas being identified for selective action. We mustn't lose the momentum. Continue the joint meetings. Lets step up the action.
Westminster council action stalled
Tory Westminster council has taken out an injunction against Westminster Unison to stop their successful strikes against the council which plans to privatise thousands of jobs over the next three years. The council got the injunction on the basis of a legal technicality - but not before being forced to write off around £22 million in parking ticket revenue after attendants joined the action.
The union is now considering its next move. Watch this space.
UNISON members in Newcastle City Council are celebrating an historic victory, which will safeguard vital council services. The Council has chosen an in-house bid for the future provision of IT and Related Services, rejecting a proposal from BT that they take over the services.
This is a landmark decision with national significance: at £250 million, it is the biggest in-house win in the history of local government procurement. The in-house bid succeeded against BT, the "market leader" in "strategic partnerships" in local government. It is the first ever example of a full in-house bid being prepared and compared against a private sector proposal for a strategic partnership project and as such it is a direct challenge to the government's modernisation agenda.
UNISON ran a two year campaign to ensure this happened, including the threat of strike action.