Today I've heard via Jon Rogers blog that the result of the consultative ballot of Local Government members is approximately 60% for acceptance of the 1% pay offer (in fact a 2 % pay cut), with 40% voting to reject and being prepared to take sustained industrial action. Sadly this pretty much reflects the result of the North Somerset consultative ballot.
But how different would that result have been if the consultative ballot paper had given the options for selective strike action combined with a work to rule, and odd days of all out strikes? How different would the result have been if as Jon Rogers rightly says the Local Government Service Group had recommended rejection? Obviously it's impossible to say, but I tend to agree with Jon that the result would have been very different.
But now we have a situation where the 3 year pay freeze which has resulted in the loss of 16% of our pay is followed by a year where our pay is effectively being cut by 2% because inflation is at 3%, and the prospects for future years pay settlements look grim, unless we are prepared to do something about it.
Hundreds of thousands of Local Government jobs have gone, and those staff that remain are seeing their workloads increase massively. My council will make a further 30% of cuts from 2014 to 2018 on top of the almost 30% of cuts made in the last 3 years. Local Government workers have also seen detrimental changes to their terms and conditions over the last few years. Here in North Somerset there is still (6 years on) bitterness at the loss of the Essential Car User Allowance, and not that long ago there was uproar when the council changed the Flexi / TOIL policy.
Many Local Government jobs have been outsourced. In my own branch we have had members transferred to private sector organisations, on the grounds that this will save jobs, only to see redundancies and reductions to their terms and conditions within months of the transfer. Our members at Parkwood have had enhancements reduced, and hardly any of the TUPE transferred staff remain - 2 years since the transfer. At Agilisys there have also been many redundancies, reductions to enhancements, and currently staff are being consulted on the complete removal of enhancements.
In a blog entry I wrote back in March I paraphrased the Communist Manifesto when I wrote that Local Government workers have nothing to lose but their chains by rejecting the then 1% with strings attached pay offer. I still believe that to be true and that we have a world to win if we were only prepared to do something about it.