Unions representing 1.4million care workers, council and school staff demand pay rise of at least £2,000 per person amid cost of living crisis
- Unison, GMB and Unite said a ‘significant’ rise could help workers face inflation
- The unions represent 1.4 million care workers, council and school employees
- And have demanded that their members get a £2,000 pay rise each
Unions representing 1.4 million care workers, council and school employees have demanded a pay rise of at least £2,000 each.
Unison, the GMB and Unite claim many of their members are on ‘poverty wages’ and need a ‘significant’ rise to meet the rising cost of food and living costs.
In recent months, shop prices have soared as retail inflation hit its highest figure retail price inflation since July 2011 and the three unions claim local government have seen an average of 27.5% wiped from the value of their pay since 2010.
The unions blame the government for cutting funding by £15 billion in 2010 and say refuse collectors, library staff, teaching assistants and care workers deserve better pay and working conditions to provide vital community services.
There have been fears that continued pressure from unions could mean a summer of discontent, echoing the 1970s when strikes caused power cuts.
Today, 24-hour London Tube strike by the militant RMT union caused commuters in the capital to face a nightmare rush to get home.
Unions representing 1.4 million care workers, council and school employees have demanded a pay rise of at least £2,000 each (stock image)
The unions blame the government for cutting funding by £15 billion in 2010 and say refuse collectors, library staff, teaching assistants and care workers deserve better pay and working conditions to provide vital community services (stock image)
Fears are mounting of a repeat of the 1978 ‘Winter of Discontent’ in which a slew of strikes by waste workers, gravediggers and lorry drivers resulted in squalid conditions for Brits under Labour PM Jim Callaghan.
It comes as unions have threatened a national rail strike which could see Network Rail forced to operate on a skeleton timetable to reserve tracks for the movement of goods – with passengers only having access to key services.
Civil servants have also threatened national strike action that could bring disruption to key infrastructure such as ports, courts and airports, after being offered a 2 per cent pay rise, which they deemed as insufficient amid the ongoing cost of living crisis that is currently causing inflation levels of 9 per cent.
The head of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, Manuel Cortes, threatened the biggest disruption since the General Strike of 1926.
But it is not only the railways that are set to be massively disrupted by strikes in the coming months.
Holidaymakers travelling through Heathrow this summer will have to prepare for delays and slower service, as the GMB Union is balloting for strikes to take place at the airport.
A number of British Airways ground staff and check-in desk workers have voted in favour of a strike that could cause chaos for travellers.
The workers are demanding that a ten per cent cut – imposed during the pandemic – is reinstated in their pay packets.
Meanwhile, Unite union has said pay strikes at Exxon’s Fawley refinery, near Southampton, will escalate in June – risking petrol supply disruption at a sixth of the UK’s petrol stations.
Around 100 workers, equivalent to a third of the refinery’s contractors, took three days of strike action in April and May over a 2.5 per cent pay offer and a lack of sick pay.
Strikes were also scheduled across five dates in June.
Elsewhere, taxi drivers in Corby are threatening to strike over plans by North Northamptonshire Council to increase the maximum two-mile fair to £6.10, which the taxi drivers say will ‘erode trust’ among its client base.
Explaining why local council workers deserve a pay rise the three unions outlined how they feel their workers have been hit.
Unison head of local government Mike Short said: ‘If the pandemic showed anything, it was that council workers provide invaluable services to keep communities safe. Time and again they went above and beyond to look after people in their area.
‘Many staff are struggling to make ends meet and unless they’re paid properly, many will decide to quit for better-paid work elsewhere.’
GMB national secretary Rehana Azam said: ‘For too long, our local government members have faced real-terms pay cuts. This year, without a significant increase in pay, workers will leave their jobs for higher-paid jobs in other sectors.’
Graham McNab, of Unite, said: ‘Our local government members have been the bedrock that allowed public services to function smoothly during the pandemic against a background of more than a decade of cuts to local council budgets.
‘Many of our members are on poverty wages and deserve a large inflation-busting pay rise as they have endured a savage reduction in pay in real terms.’
Sian Timoney, who chairs the National Employers, said: ‘We will be consulting with councils during June to seek their views which will inform the National Employers’ response to the unions.
‘Local government continues to face significant financial challenges, which became more acute during the pandemic, having lost more than £15 billion in government funding since 2010.
‘As well as rising inflation, cost of living, energy and fuel prices, the forecast increases to the national living wage also presents a significant cost to local government that will put further pressure on council budgets.’
Inflation has soared to an eye-watering 40-year high, according to figures reported last month.
The Consumer Price Index rate rose to nine per cent in April – up from seven per cent in March – and the highest since 1982.
Industry experts warned last week that the situation will get ‘worse before it gets better’ as the latest BRC-NielsenIQ Shop Price Index shows retail price inflation was 2.8% in May, the highest figure since July 2011.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: ‘Retail prices edged up further as commodity, energy and transport costs continued to climb.
‘It is likely to get worse before it gets better for consumers with prices continuing to rise and a further jump in energy costs coming in October.’
‘Fresh food inflation hit its highest rate in a decade, with items like poultry and margarine seeing some of the largest increases due to soaring costs of animal feed and near-record global food prices.
‘Retailers have been working hard to protect their customers from these rising costs, particularly at a time when households are being impacted by a huge rise in household energy bills.’
Commuters were today facing a nightmare rush to get home amid travel chaos caused by a 24-hour Tube strike – as the militant RMT union prepares to reveal its dates for railway walkouts tomorrow.
Pictures showed long lines of Londoners forming snaking queues at bus stops under grey skies and rain, while elsewhere commuters arrived at underground stations to find them shuttered
Pictures showed long lines of Londoners forming snaking queues at bus stops under grey skies and rain, while elsewhere commuters arrived at underground stations to find them shuttered.
The chaos has been caused by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), who are taking industrial action in a dispute over jobs and pensions. They believe up to 600 jobs and their pension scheme are under threat from a cash-strapped TfL, which a union leader today claimed is ‘bankrupt’ and in need of £500m by March next year.
RMT leader Mick Lynch ‘congratulated’ its members today and warned that they ‘will not rest’ until a ‘just’ agreement is reached.
And today’s action could just be the start of a feared ‘summer of discontent’, after unions recently threatened a national rail strike, which would see Network Rail forced to operate on a skeleton timetable to reserve tracks for the movement of goods – with passengers only having access to key services. The RMT is expected to reveal dates for train strikes tomorrow.
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