OVER 18 months after Coventry City Council voted to break off negotiations with Unison over the imposed Single Status ‘deal’, the union looks set to add to the three days of strike action which it has already taken to defend members’ wages. In the face of the Tory-controlled council's attempts to use anti-union legislation and its team of solicitors in the High Court, the union ballot unanimously endorsed selective strike action.
Single Status is meant to be about pay equality - under this veneer of fairness the City Council is taking the opportunity to slash its workers’ wages. Even many low-paid women workers face huge attacks on their salaries, proving that the employers’ agenda is nothing to do with levelling up the inequality between male and female workers. Unison has long campaigned for equal wages, but is not prepared to accept unfair and imposed cuts. Some workers, including refuse collectors, are facing cuts of up to £9,000 a year.
The strike action has been delayed after legal threats, and the union has had to re-ballot members who had already declared that they wanted to strike against the scheme and the City Council’s abject refusal to negotiate with the workers or take their complaints seriously. The employers say that they will have to first look at the outcome of equal pay cases, even though these claims could take years to settle through the tribunals.
Coventry Unison is asking for donations so that members on strike can still receive the full equivalent of their take-home pay, and is holding a release of 3000 balloons on Hersall Common at midday on 7 October, with speakers from the branch. For more details and regular bulletins and updates on the campaign, visit www.coventryunison.co.uk.
Disputes over the Single Status scheme have taken place across the country, most notably in Sunderland, and have recently broken out in Falkirk, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Alex McLuckie from GMB Scotland warned that the employers' attitude could lead to industrial unrest across all councils.