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23.06.14

Local government strike action – date set after yes vote

Public sector union Unison says its local government and school support workers have voted 'yes' to strike action over the offer of a 1% pay deal, which came following a three-year pay freeze.

The vote result was:

For: 49,836 (58.7%)

Against: 35,062 (41.3%)

But Unison has not announced the turnout. The union's national committee is meeting to decide the 'next steps'.

General secretary Dave Prentis said: “These workers care for our elderly, clean our streets, feed and educate our school children and keep our libraries running, but they receive no recognition in their pay packets. They are mainly low paid women workers, stressed and demoralised, and they deserve better from their employers and from this government. This is the group that has borne the brunt of the government’s austerity agenda.

“We are now discussing next steps. But we call on the employers to get back into talks to agree a fair deal for local government and school support workers."

The 1% offer from Local Government Employers applies to more than one million workers including teaching assistants, planners, administrators, social workers and engineers, and will cost £164.65m. It does not cover council chief executives, senior officers, teachers or firefighters, who are covered by separate national pay arrangements.

Cllr Sian Timoney, chair of the Employers' Side, said when it was first announced: “There is a broad consensus among councils that there should be a pay offer to staff this year. At a time when local government is tackling the biggest cuts in living memory, this offer balances our commitment to increase the pay of our hardworking employees with the responsibility we have to address the significant financial pressures we face.

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

UPDATE 3.10pm: The strike date for local government and school support staff members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be 10 July.

Dave Prentis, said: “We have a clear majority for strike action so a one day strike will go ahead on 10 July. We expect to be joined in that action by other unions in local government and will be campaigning amongst our members for maximum support on that day."

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