Local government branches across the region are gearing up to take action on pay on Thursday 10 July. School support staff and council workers have voted to go on strike over the employers’ paltry pay offer of 1%.
This is hardly a rush to go on strike – we are taking action after extreme provocation and after showing great restraint. Since 2010 our pay has been cut by 18% in real terms. Over half a million, mostly women, mostly part-time workers, earn less than the living wage. We have suffered a falling standard of living while our workloads have been increasing.
A pay increase in local government is affordable. Currently, low-paying council employers effectively get a taxpayer subsidy in the form of the in-work benefits that their staff receive. Paying all local government workers a living wage will boost Treasury coffers by around £0.9bn every year from increased tax and national insurance take. A pay rise would also boost local economies as most of the money paid in wages will be spent in communities.
Combating low pay is en vogue with politicians and policy makers at present. This week, the Chair of the Living Wage Commission, Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, called on the Government to pay the living wage for people providing public services.
As the largest public sector trade union we can do better than that. It is our role to make sure that working people get a fair deal and it’s time now to stand up and get what’s rightfully ours. There’s no good reason for us to be getting poorer year after year. It’s not necessary. It’s not good for the economy. It’s our time to break this Government’s poverty pay policy.