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UNISON: ‘Long campaign’ in pay dispute

The Government is facing the threat of industrial action by millions of council and health workers in bitter disputes over pay, with the first strikes in July and continuing for months, it has been revealed.

Local government workers are already being consulted about whether to reject a pay offer worth 1% to most employees, while health workers are expected to be asked if they want to take action after the Government decided against awarding a 1% across the board rise in the NHS, as recommended by a pay review body.

Unions are moving towards a strike ballot among local government workers, with July 10 already pencilled in for a possible day of action, it has been learned.

Unison will tomorrow debate calls for a campaign of industrial action among its 450,000 health service members, with the possibility of co-ordinating action with council workers.

Dave Prentis, Unison’s general secretary said the pay offer in the NHS was “derisory” and had sparked anger among health workers.

“I t is clear that the Government believes that health workers are so ground down by what is happening in the NHS – outsourcing of services, cut backs and privatisation – that they will not stand up for themselves over pay. Ï believe the opposite is true,” he said at Unison’s annual health conference in Brighton.

Campaigns could include protests and demonstrations and non co-operational, as well as industrial action.

“We want to keep our options open about what kind of action to take, and it could be a long campaign. I doubt if the coalition Government will want a health workers’ dispute running into the next election.”

Mr Prentis appealed to members of the Royal College of Nursing and the British Medical Association to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with Unison in any pay campaign.

Action could be co-ordinated between health and council workers, leading up to a demonstration in London on October 18 being organised by the TUC, he said.

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