Council workers plan pay strike

PUBLISHED: 14:18 03 July 2008 | UPDATED: 21:31 31 May 2010

TWO-DAY strikes taking place at council offices in the district and county later this month could impact services for Uttlesford residents. Members of Unison are intending to take strike action on July 16 and 17, over the Government s decision to offer a

TWO-DAY strikes taking place at council offices in the district and county later this month could impact services for Uttlesford residents.

Members of Unison are intending to take strike action on July 16 and 17, over the Government's decision to offer a pay rise of 2.45 per cent. The public sector trade union's members believe the increase is too small and feel they have been forced into the 48-hour strike.

Sue Hayden, chairman of the Uttlesford branch of Unison, said nobody in the union wanted to take any action which could affect services for Uttlesford residents, but that they had no choice.

"Much of the membership of Unison is made up of low-paid workers," she said, "who can't afford to strike but at the same time can't afford not to.

"We don't want to strike, but we're fed up. Enough is enough. The pay rise we've been offered, of 2.45 per cent, is tantamount to a pay cut. We want an inflationary increase."

Miss Hayden said that although she did not yet know how many staff at the council would be taking part in the action, it was likely some services - including rubbish collection - could be affected.

However, she emphasised that Unison would not let the strike put the vulnerable or elderly at risk. Council employees at sheltered housing complexes, for example, would not take part in the strike.

A spokesman for Uttlesford District Council (UDC) said: "Contingency plans are being prepared in partnership with Unison to ensure that vulnerable people are not put at risk. However other services may be affected and some disruption is possible."

Members of the union will be picketing outside the council offices in Saffron Walden and Dunmow during the two days, as other local authority workers take similar action across the country.

The decision to strike came about after a vote of almost 600,000 Unison members in which fifty-five per cent opted for strike action.

Heather Wakefield, Unison head of local government, said: "The employers should be in no doubt: the members have voted for a programme of sustained and escalating strike action because they are sick of being treated as the poor relations of the public sector."

Services offered by Essex County Council, such as libraries and schools, could also be affected by the strike. Unison members were meeting after the Reporter went to press to discuss who would take part.

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