On Wednesday 16 and Thursday 17 July, local government workers in Unison and Unite took part in a 48 hour strike. The action was in response to the "final" 2.45% pay offer made by the employers (which, given the current rate of inflation, constitutes a real terms pay cut) and part of a wider struggle being waged across the public sector against what the government call "pay restraint."
Support for the strike seems to have been patchy. Nevertheless, there were pickets at council offices across the country and thousands of schools were closed as teaching assistansts, caretakers, midday supervisors and admin staff walked out. Larger towns and cities saw a number of rallies and marches.
Newswire: Local Government Strike: Day Two | Patchy Support for Public Sector Strike | I'd Rather Be A Cyclist Than A Scab: UNISON Strike Birmingham | Local authority workers walk out over pay cut | Local Government Strike: Day One | UNISON Local Government Members Strike Over Pay | Public service Strike 16-17th July and rally at Guildhall on 16th | Council workers to strike over pay | Local government workers to strike over pay
Regional Feature: Local Government Workers in Notts Join National Strike
The strike was weakened by the fact that GMB members have endorsed the pay offer and rejected strike action. While a handful of GMB members refused to cross picket lines, the non-participation of such a major union helped reduce the impact on services.
The constraints imposed on local government workers are mirrored in the conditions of others in the public sector. In April, teachers, further education lecturers and civil servants took coordinated strike action against their pay offers. Similarly, there is growing anger amongst health workers about the poor pay offers that their employers have made. There is a potential here for powerful alliances to be made. Whether that potential can be built upon remains to be seen.