UK

GMB council and school workers vote to join strike day

Protester with GMB placard Image copyright AFP
Image caption The date of the strike is set to be a day of wider action against government cuts

Members of the GMB union will join a day of action that could see more than one million workers on strike in total.

The GMB said council and school workers voted by three to one to walk out on 10 July over a pay offer worth 1% to most.

The date is significant because it has been earmarked as a general day of protest over government policy on cutting public sector costs and jobs.

Members of public service union Unison have already voted to strike over pay on the same day.

The National Union of Teachers has also voted to strike on 10 July, raising the prospect of disruption in schools across England and Wales.

The government is now facing a walkout by more than a million public sector workers next month, including council staff, school support workers, teachers and civil servants.

GMB national officer Brian Strutton said its members - in England, Wales and Northern Ireland - had "spoken loud and clear".

'Ignored and undervalued'

"We have tried sensible discussions, we've sought to negotiate reasonably, we've said we are willing to accept Acas arbitration rather than go on strike - but to everything we've tried, the employers have said no. So we have no choice," he said.

"GMB members serving school meals, cleaning streets, emptying bins, looking after the elderly, helping children in classrooms and in all the other vital roles serving our communities are fed-up with being ignored and undervalued."

He added: "Their pay has gone up only 1% since 2010 and in October even the national minimum wage will overtake local authority pay scales.

"Their case is reasonable, the employers won't listen and don't care. No wonder they have turned to strike action as the only way of making their voices heard.

"With other unions involved too, 10 July looks like being the second biggest dispute ever, with up to two million workers on strike."

There were 26,281 votes in favour of strike action and 9,799 against, on a turnout of 23%.

'Fairest deal'

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 400 councils in England and Wales, said it was "disappointing" the GMB was going ahead with strike action on the back of a low turnout.

An LGA spokesman said: "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."

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