"We urge the government to come to the table in good faith, clearly understanding the role public service workers play in strengthening our society and our economy, to negotiate fair wages and working conditions." — James Clancy, NUPGE National President.
Ottawa (08 July 2014) — On 10 July, up to two million public sector workers in the United Kingdom will hold a 24-hour strike. The Public Services International (PSI) affiliated unions GMB, Fire Brigades Union (FBU), Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), Unison and Unite the Union, together with the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA) and the teachers' union NUT, will be striking against the government's decision to offer a one per cent salary increase and against government policy.
Government pushing further austerity measures on public sector workers across the UK
As a result of a government pay freeze and pension policy, real-term earnings have decreased by 20 per cent since the government came into power in 2010.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said, "These workers care for our elderly, clean our streets, feed and educate our school children and keep our libraries running, but they receive no recognition in their pay packets.
"They are mainly low-paid women workers, stressed and demoralised, and they deserve better from their employers and from this government.
"This is the group that has borne the brunt of the government's austerity agenda."
Union members fight low wages and "poverty pay" — cuts have reduced earnings by 20% in four years
GMB national officer Brian Strutton said, "GMB members serving school meals, cleaning streets, emptying bins, looking after the elderly, helping children in classrooms and in all the other vital roles serving our communities are fed-up with being ignored and undervalued."
He added,"Their pay has gone up only one per cent since 2010 and in October even the national minimum wage will overtake local authority pay scales."
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Ministers praise public servants for their hard work and dedication but at the same time they are slashing their living standards. Instead of warm words, public sector workers need a pay rise. As politicians of all parties justify pay cuts by repeating the lie that there's no money around, and household incomes fall to their lowest for more than a decade, it is clear the so called economic recovery is not being felt by everyone."
Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack said, "The fact that this government has united so many workers to take strike action against them is a testament to the failure of their policies. They are destroying our public services and wrecking the lives of millions."
Unite national officer for local government Fiona Farmer said, “Our members have endured four years of pay cuts in real terms and they have now voted overwhelmingly to strike on 10 July to drive home the message to ministers that ‘poverty pay’ in local government must end. Poverty pay is widespread across local councils — household bills continue to soar, but our members’ buying power is constantly being eroded. The national minimum wage will soon overtake local government pay scales; members are choosing between heating and eating.
“For too long the council workers have been targeted to bear the brunt of the austerity measures that have been imposed by millionaire cabinet ministers since 2010. The aim is to get the employers back around the table to negotiate a fair deal for those who deliver vital local government services, from social care to refuse collection, on a daily basis," Farmer said.
The national trade union organisation, the Trade Union Congress (TUC), has also organised a mass protest on 18 October in London, with other protests organised around the UK.
NUPGE sends solidarity to public sector workers
"On behalf of the 340,000 members of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), many of whom work in the pubilc sector providing similiar services to those striking on July 10, we stand in solidarity with you as you fight for decent wages," said James Clancy, NUPGE National President. "We know that communities rely on the services you provide to keep their families strong and healthy. Yet, every time we turn around governments are attacking the people who are constantly giving more and getting less in return.
"We urge the government to come to the table in good faith, clearly understanding the role public service workers play in strengthening our society and our economy, to negotiate fair wages and working conditions," said Clancy.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE