Unison to ballot for strike action over 1% pay offer

Unison placard Image copyright PA
Image caption The union said the pay offer was "effectively another pay freeze"

Public sector union Unison is to ballot council workers and school support staff in England for strikes after members rejected a 1% pay offer.

The union said it would ballot 600,000 of its members in the coming weeks after 70% of them rejected the offer.

It said a 1% rise would mean 50,000 of its lowest paid local government workers would receive an increase only slightly above inflation.

The Local Government Association said the 1% rise was a "fair deal".

Employees covered by the offer include teaching assistants, planners, administrators, social workers and engineers.

Unison said council workers had endured three consecutive years of pay freezes, followed by below-inflation rises in 2013 and 2014, which had left their pay packets depleted by almost 20% since the government came to power.

It said the pay offer was "effectively another pay freeze".

'Harsh austerity'

Heather Wakefield, Unison's head of local government, said: "Our members have made it clear that this pay offer is the straw that breaks the camel's back after years of pay freezes and below-inflation rises.

"Local government workers have kept services running in our communities in the face of the government's harsh austerity agenda, and they deserve more than just a bare minimum pay increase."

A Local Government Association (LGA) spokesman said that lowest paid council workers would be receiving an increase in their pay packets of more than 1%, adding it was "frustrating" that Unison had "failed to recognise this".

The spokesman said: "We know that these have been difficult times for the local government workforce who have worked wonders to keep vital local services running while councils are tackling the biggest cuts in living memory.

"The pay offer we have made would increase by 1% the pay of most employees while those on the lowest pay would receive a larger increase.

"We believe that this is a fair deal for our employees, given the limits of what we can afford, and a fair deal for the taxpayers and residents who use and pay for the crucial services which local government provides.

"In calling for strike action, Unison is further delaying the process of council employees receiving a pay increase this year."

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