Thursday, March 20, 2008

Poor pay offer demands strike ballot

Yes – an initial 2.2% pay offer is indeed a “slap in the face” to local government workers. The Trade Union Side was unanimous in condemning the offer, which attaches strings to a basic pay offer below even the current CPI level of 2.5%.

We should be responding with honesty and clarity.

We need to be honest with our members about the rate of inflation – we don’t need to care about the CPI index which does not reflect the cost of living. We have to acknowledge that a pay rise below the Retail Price Index (RPI) will be a real terms pay cut. If 2.2% is a slap in the face, 2.5% will be a poke in the eye.

We also have to be clear that we are not going to get anywhere near a pay rise which keeps pace with real price inflation without national strike action. That is why it is not helpful or encouraging to hear that there will be further negotiations on 2 April. That’s too late.

Our pay rise is due on 1 April. Every day that passes beyond that date in 2008 without moves towards a strike ballot will be a day on which members will start to conclude that we are not serious.

Winning a strike ballot will not be easy and winning a better pay deal will not be easy. We may not win. However if we genuinely believe in the justice of the claim which we have submitted we owe it to our members to offer a strategy which could win us an offer closer to our claim.

I believe that the evidence is that national strike action could do this and that we ought to offer our members the opportunity to support action which can win – and to do so now.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jon

Given your previous proud post that you've never recommended a national pay offer to members I'm guessing your post would have been the same if the pay offer was 2.5%, 3.2% or even 4.5%.

That said, 2.2% was a very poor offer. But do you really believe there is a stomach for strike action. I've worked out that for every day I go on strike the pay offer will have to increase by about 0.5% for me to recover the loss in the days wages in this pay year.

Honestly, do you think if we go on strike will we get an improvement of more than 0.5%?

Anonymous said...

can you name a successful national pay strike in the last 4 years ??
not RMT not PCS not FBU not NUT

Ric Euteneuer said...

An anonymous poster posits the question "can you name a successful national pay strike in the last 4 years ??"

Well, as regards 'pay', we had a one day strike a year and a bit back over pensions entitlement, which resulted in a MUCH improved pensions offer being tabled and agreed. The strike was national, and very well observed. I'd say that was successful, to be honest.

It was particularly good for us - as I mentioned, we have 20% of staff in UNISON membership, at the time it was 15% or so, yet we managed to persuade around 60% of staff to either not turn up to work, take leave, or work away from the office, resulting in most offices being closed or running a skeleton service. We explained the hardest hit were the people on the lowest wage, and got sympathetic local press (something of a first !), and some public support.

It can be done. Striking is not something you can do every day, and is best kept in reserve for important local and national issues; it can also be used strategically (such as one Council I worked for, Nalgo, as was, managed to get almost all the cashiers and finance staff (less than 10% of the staff) to go on strike and crippled the Council, who caved in, in only a week.

It will be interesting for us, and another subject for possible debate as to whether we should strike, if balloted, on a pay issue that doesn't affect us directly.

Anonymous said...

Take our union PCS we are in your terms a committed union ??? from GS down to stewards.
Yet our national strike action against pay offer has not so far been successful ?
Why would yours be ???
this is a matter of tatics and timing not right v left as you often suggest.

I am a great supporter of local strikes where we secure a majority on a majority turn out does that make you right wing now adays,...when a majority of you people have never even been on strike...

why is it that the RMT probably the most militant union has never had a national strike ....not because they are right wing

All so you mix up the issue of strikes over pay and pensions

lets have real debate on tatics...not name calling