Tuesday, April 24, 2007

After Health Conference - we need unity on pay!

I was glad to read that Andy Burnham got a “mixed reception” from UNISON Health Conference, where I have spent much of the last couple of days. This is hardly a shock since the Conference had already backed calls for strike action over pay.

The crucial point about public sector pay is that, as Mike Jackson told the Health Conference, the architects of the pay policy are the Prime Minister and Chancellor. The policy applies across the public sector and we need a united response from the trade unions.

Civil servants are striking on 1 May. The National Union of Teachers are seeking to reopen their pay deal. In the mean time the local government employers are offering 2% in response to our claim for 5% or £1,000 – whilst inflation is now at almost 5%!

What do we need in these circumstances? Unity and coordination.

This is the challenge which will face the General Secretaries on 14 May. How do we build unity at every level from the most local up to coordinated national strike action. This is what we need if we want to defeat Gordon Brown’s pay policy.

In this context I am very pleased to report the decision of last week’s meeting of the UNISON’s Greater London Regional Local Government Executive to call for a joint union rally in early June to bring London public sector trade unionists together in opposition to the Government policy on public sector pay.

Perhaps the UNISON Local Government Service Group Executive should be thinking about whether July’s lobby of Parliament over funding for Single Status and the pay and grading reviews in local government could become a joint union lobby for fair pay for public servants?

Certainly UNISON must try to get to united action between health and local government workers if our Union is ever to live up to its promise.

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