Laura Sharman 17 July 2014

What did the strike achieve?

What did the strike achieve? image

"Not every council could strike. Anyone outside the national agreement was not eligible. I think the coverage failed to mention this."

"I think a general work to rule or refusal to do anything that was out of our contractual duties or hours would be more effective. Many of us do far more than we should out of loyalty and this can be taken for granted and abused. At lunchtimes we tend to eat at our desks and do not mind answering queries or phones, if we stopped doing that for a while that would be very effective!"

"Whilst understanding why a strike was called I do not believe this is an effective or positive way of raising the issues involved. The public already have a very negative view of public sector workers and strike allows the press to have a field day reinforcing such views and yet more ammunition to have a go at us - using the politics of envy. I do not believe the strikes gain public sympathy at all."

"Our council has had a pay freeze for over four years now, but at the same time we have lost highly qualified and experienced staff through cuts. Staffing levels are being reduced with the staff left being expected to acquire more skills and larger workloads. The vacancies we are allowed to recruit to are getting increasingly difficult to fill -either because we are expecting too much from one post holder and/or the pay levels are not high enough - particularly to attract anyone to relocate and/or people are wary to take a post that may then become redundant. Pay needs to be reasonable in order to attract the very type of people we need to run the services that are left."

"It was irritating that better paid sectors (such as firefighters and teachers, who have much more generous retirement plans starting at 55 etc) hijacked the strike, together with civil servants, who have had much better pay deals and increments in the last few years. I think this dissipated the focus on just how hard done by council staff have been in comparison (pay freezes, increment freezes etc), with the result that the media focus was more on the lack of legitimacy for the NUT and FBU strikes and govt proposals to address this."

"Staff numbers have been reduced over the same period where there was no pay award or only 1%, effectively cutting earnings by inflation for four years. This isn't sustainable."

"It is quite clear that in terms of real pay local government workers have been hit in their pockets substantially. I support any action that will take low paid workers up to a living wage. If MP's can give themselves a pay rise at a time when they are cutting other public services then it is only fair that the public sector unions fight for their lower paid members."

"I have never known moral to be so low across all council services. The low pay offer is only one factor involved in this. There have also been radical changes across all services, with large numbers of staff having been made redundant, yet workloads remaining the same. There has also been the wholesale implementation of job re-evaluation schemes with in some cases salaries being reduced by up to as much as 30%. This against a background of MPs voting themselves a pay increase way above inflation."

"Local government workers have been central government's 'whipping boys' for too long now and have suffered a reduction of almost 20% of their spending power over the past four-five years. This has been at a time when we are expected to take on far more duties with far less resources. I have lost four valuable staff within a year and enough is enough!"

"Based on previous years experience, redundancies will still take place even when a 1% pay offer is accepted, so we literally have nothing to lose by going on strike. But it's not just about the pay offer. It's about us raising awareness of the reduction or even removal of services. It's about us reminding everyone that the banks put the economy in this position, not the public sector, but we're all paying the price for it becuase we're an easier target for central government. It's about how remaining council staff have had their workloads doubled and are under more pressure and stress to keep services running with far less staff and resources. It's about us standing up and saying we are highly skilled, specialised workers dealing with the most vulnerable members of society, and deserve to be recognised as such."

"Whilst I can agree that our pay has suffered, we are not alone in this, and feel we should be leading by example until such time as the economy is agreed to be growing again. I would even go so far as to suggest that those on the highest wages take a pay cut to allow for those on the lowest to be paid an additional premium."

"As a union member I feel that I need to show solidarity with others who voted for the strike. However, as a manager I am aware of the impossible situation faced by local government where any pay increases, however justified, will result in a greater reduction in services and possible redundancies. We cannot square the budget circle."

"I was surprised how effective strike action turned out to be. I didn't strike personally but I would consider doing so next time."

"Due to further cut backs there are about 500 jobs at risk of being axed. I feel any increase in the pay offer would potentially put further jobs and/or services at risk. I would rather forego a pay rise so that colleagues and service users retain their jobs/services."

"Even losing a single days pay in the current economic climate is causing difficulties. This is not the time for unions to use its members in political/ideological battles with government."

"Striking is unlikely to cause employers to back down and increase pay. A one-off strike will raise the profile of the issue. Currently the public seem largely supportive and feel we have the moral high-ground over central government, further strike action is likely to turn public opinion against us and undermine any progress made."

"After three years of pay freezes and then a 1% rise last year, local government pay has fallen well below inflation. It should be remembered most local government workers earn less than the UK average and are dedicated to delivering a good service. This is about getting the employer back around the table to continue meaningful negotiations towards fair pay, 1% isn't enough and is insulting to hardworking local government employees."

"Local goverment staff are a dedicated workforce who have been unfairly vilified by the current government and some press for the last few years. Most staff enter local government knowing that comparable pay in the private sector is likely to be better but they want to try and make a difference in their communities. The government needs to understand that we are not highly paid and the last few years of either no pay rise or 1% and cuts to our terms and conditions have had a major impact on our lives and we are really struggling to make ends meet. Unfortunately strike action for most of us was a very hard decision to make but the only way we can try to stick our heads above the parapet and say we have had enough."

"I think the strike was a big own goal for the unions and has just played into the anti-public service rhetoric that the government has been pushing."

"First of all, I was asked by the union whether the 1% pay rise acceptable or not. I also feel that the union should be looking to preserve jobs rather than trying to get an improve pay offer, which I feel is more than enough bearing in mind the economic crisis that this country is currently experiencing. The action to support the improvement in the minimum wage for the lower paid staff is, in my opinion, the only valid cause here."

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