High-noon protest over council workers’ pay claim

PAY PROTEST ... Unison members campaign for a fair pay deal outside South Shields Town Hall.
PAY PROTEST ... Unison members campaign for a fair pay deal outside South Shields Town Hall.

LOCAL government and school workers in South Tyneside sent a pay warning to the Government – on their lunch break.

The noon pay protest was staged on the steps of South Shields Town Hall.

It was part of Unison’s campaign for improved pay and fair council funding.

The protest took place ahead of a strike ballot over this year’s pay offer that would see 90 per cent of local government and school support workers receive a rise of just one per cent.

And ballot papers have now been sent to 600,000 Unison members on whether or not to take industrial action.

Merv Butler, Unison branch secretary in South Tyneside, said: “The national day of protest was held to mark the Local and European Elections and the start of the Unison national industrial action ballot.

“The lunchtime protests highlighted the dire state of local government pay and the disastrous impact of Government cuts on local jobs and services. Council budgets have been slashed by 40 per cent under the Coalition.

“Pay freezes in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and below inflation rises in eight of the last 17 years have sent the pay packets of some local government and school workers plummeting back to the level of the 1990s.

“This year’s offer would result in a cumulative real-term cut of almost 20 per cent for more than one million local government and school workers.”

Unison is seeking a £1.20 an hour minimum increase, which would bring the bottom rate of pay in local government to the level of the Living Wage, and help restore some of the pay lost across the whole workforce.

South Tyneside Council has had to provide its services despite a reduction of £100m in its government funding over the last four years.

Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul