24 Jul 2008

GREENS CALL FOR UNITED STRIKE ACTION OVER PAY

Derek Wall, the Green Party's Male Principal Speaker, has called for trade unions to put increased pressure on the Government and public sector employers by uniting to carry out sustained strike action, in opposition to attempts to impose pay cuts.

Last week over 500,000 local government workers across the country – including care assistants, refuse collectors, cleaners, teaching assistants and social workers - took industrial action because employers are attempting to impose pay cuts. The employers "final offer" amounted to just 2.45 per cent, whilst food prices have risen over 9 per cent in the last year and energy bills by 15 per cent.

In the wake of a national two-day walkout by UNISON and Unite last week, many union activists are discussing the potential for joint action between unions across different sectors.

In Scotland, a local government dispute is likely to lead to strike action, whilst a decision by the National Executive Committee of the National Union of Teachers resolved to ballot for further discontinuous strike action in late September. Civil servants union, the PCS, is also to ballot its public sector membership for twelve weeks of discontinuous action. In June, delegates of the Communications Workers Union voted unanimously for strike action against pension cuts, post office and mail centre closures, and up to 40,000 job losses.

Derek Wall stated, "What public sector workers are asking for is entirely fair – that they are not forced to pay for economic problems which they are not responsible for."

"Many Green trade unionists believe that further strike action must be planned now and should be coordinated between trade unions as far as is possible. We support the widest and broadest coalition of industrial action."

"Sustained and united strike action can force the hand of the employers and overturn their plans to impose pay cuts. All public sector workers deserve a pay rise not only to cover inflation, but to make up for 10 years of below inflation pay deals, which are pay cuts in all but name."

The Green Party has a record of championing trade union activism, from defending attacks on public services to advocating the repeal of the anti-trade union laws introduced by the Conservatives and left in place by Labour. On the London Assembly, Green Party Members were integral in establishing the Living Wage Unit aiming to lift London's lowest paid workers out of the poverty trap.

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