Following the well supported strike on 10 July the local government employers have refused to reconsider their offer or even to engage in talks with us. Their behaviour is totally disrespectful. We are not prepared to let matters lie so the trade unions have considered the next steps and we have agreed –
- To redouble our efforts to open negotiations with the employers.
- To pressurise Councillors and MPs.
- To seek to engage ACAS in the dispute.
- To win the support of Labour and local government Labour.
- To hold a day of protest in August.
- To hold a further strike during w/c 13 October in conjunction with health and other unions.
In addition, Unite are independently planning some action short of strike in mid September and Unison are planning to strike alone on 30 September. GMB is keeping to agreed joint union action only, as outlined above, in line with our policies and TUC Congress policy.
However the most important thing is to resolve the dispute in our members’ interests and that is what I shall be focussing on. Let’s be absolutely clear that it is the employers who are responsible for the dispute which we would suspend immediately if they would agree to ACAS arbitration. Indeed our national agreement requires them and us to allow ACAS to sort out our differences but the employers point blank refuse. That means the employers are completely disregarding our agreements and are deliberately choosing strife over peace. The government and the media likes to blame unions for strikes, it should be made very clear that our dispute in local government and schools is not of our making or choosing, it is due solely to the arrogance and intransigence of the employers.
I remain absolutely convinced that our case is good; pay in local government and schools is lower than virtually anywhere in the economy and morale is at rock bottom. We know this government has cut council budgets to the bone but it is not our members’ pay that should be sacrificed to make ends meet. Our members have to make ends meet too.
Our fight continues and I will be letting you know what you can do to help.