Council and school staff in East of England begin strike ballot over pay

A man dressed as a postbox sits in front of a large group of people holding banners and UNISON flags. The message on the banner is 'Rise up to get pay up'

Nearly 25,000 council and school support staff across the East of England will begin voting today on whether to strike over pay, says UNISON.

The wage offer made by employers to local government staff is nowhere near what’s needed to meet rising prices during the cost of living crisis, says the union.

UNISON had called for an increase of 2% above inflation. Now the union is asking more than 360,000 local government workers across England and Wales whether they are prepared to take industrial action.

Since 2010, the value of local government pay has fallen by 25% and the offer of a flat rate rise of £1,925 falls way short of workers’ expectations and needs, says UNISON.

The six-week ballot, which closes on Tuesday 4 July, includes refuse collectors, social workers, teaching assistants, librarians and many more working at 4,000 different employers in England and Wales.

UNISON Eastern head of local government Alex Porter said: “Too often council and school support staff are taken for granted. Without them, the services on which whole communities rely won’t exist.

“With cuts to local government and education budgets, employees are having to do more with far less. That puts huge pressure on an already-stretched workforce struggling to keep afloat as costs continue to soar.

“Staff are leaving their jobs because pay is falling ever further behind, and neighbourhoods will suffer. Bins won’t be collected, schools won’t have sufficient staff and vulnerable people will be deprived of vital support.

“These workers are truly dedicated but they’ve had enough. Going on strike is a huge step that isn’t taken lightly but many feel they have to make a stand.

“Employers can do far better. But ministers also need to step up to make sure local government is given the funding it needs, so staff get a decent wage and services are protected.”

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