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Saturday, 20 September 2014

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Cumbria council workers set to strike over pay

COUNCIL workers are to stage a fresh strike over pay, raising the threat of an autumn of discontent by millions of public sector employees against government policies.

Unison, the GMB and Unite, which represent more than a million local authority workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said their members will walk out on October 14.

The workers, including librarians, cleaners, refuse collectors, teaching assistants and school meals staff, went on strike on July 10 in protest at a one per cent pay offer.

The unions said no further meetings have been held despite an offer of talks, adding that council workers’ pay has been reduced in value by 20 per cent since the coalition came to power. The move followed an earlier announcement by the Fire Brigades Union of a fresh round of strikes by firefighters in England and Wales from next month in a separate row over pensions.

Heather Wakefield, head of local government at Unison, said: “Employers and government must be left in no doubt that we are serious in this dispute.”

GMB national officer Brian Strutton said: “Our members deserve a fair pay deal and we have to fight together to achieve that. Council leaders should reconsider their parsimonious pay offer and do the right thing by their staff.”

Unite national officer Fiona Farmer said: “Local government workers have had years of real pay cuts, working harder to deliver vital local services while being paid less and struggling to make ends meet.”

Health workers are also being balloted for industrial action in a separate row over pay, which could lead to more strikes in October.

A series of walkouts could be held in the week beginning October 13.

More than 400,000 members of the Royal College of Midwives, Unison, Unite and the GMB are being asked if they want to take action.

The unions said NHS staff including nurses and midwives are angry over the government’s refusal to accept a recommended one per cent pay rise.

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the RCM, said: “Hard-working midwives are deeply concerned that the independent pay review body is being ignored and the NHS pay structure threatened.”

The TUC is staging a national demonstration on October 18 over pay.

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