All UNISON members who work directly for the Council should have received a ballot paper by now. If you have not then please call the Ballot Hotline on 0800 0 857 857. Lines are open Monday to Friday from 6am to midnight and 9am to 4pm on Sundays. This line closes on 18th June – one week from now, so make sure you contact them if you need a ballot paper.
Today saw the Regional Officers attend the branch and they spoke to the members who attended our branch meeting. It is a shame that more of you were not there to hear the Regional Officer and Area Organiser
explain how UNISON is campaigning for better pay for Local government workers. Nationally, on average, local government workers are earning £4,000 less per year than when the coalition took power. In Waltham Forest our lowest paid members have also had to put up with the Labour Council cutting their take home pay by removing all staff pay benefits that only applied to lower paid workers.
The personal stories for our lowest paid members make for uncomfortable listening especially when we keep hearing about the exhilarating rates of pay given to consultants and the pay rises that some pf our managers have achieved via the Council re-organisation.
What is most important though is that we all vote. Every member of UNISON should grab the opportunity to have their say about pay. The unions want us to vote “Yes”. Our sister unions, GMB and UNITE are also balloting and we are hoping that all there unions will work in concert together to achieve the best possible outcomes. Even if you do not support the proposal to take strike action, please make sure you express that view by returning your ballot paper. The worst possible outcome would be a low response rate to the ballot as it will leave the union unsure of where its members stand on the issue.
This branch strongly supports the ballot and every morning we have been outside various Council workplaces handing out leaflets, encouraging members to vote. It is our view that this union cannot afford to allow the government’s pay restraint to continue. Our jobs are being devalued and it is getting more and more difficult to pay for the essentials of life, especially here in London. We also believe that if the employers see a weak reaction to this campaign from trade union members it will give them the green light to push harder and go further with their cuts and we see a connection between pay cuts and jobs. If they can get away with one then they will get away with the other. In other words, less pay means less jobs. Councils like to pretend that money saved through cuts protects jobs. We say that’s a lie. In Waltham Forest, as soon as the Council had saved £65 million, they were immediately forced to save another £45 million. So it is time to make up your mind – vote Yes to start to fight back or vote No to accept more of the same. But whatever happens, please make sure that you vote.