HUNDREDS of council manual workers are to ballot for strike action next month in a bitter pay row.
Staff ranging from binmen and pest controllers to care workers, classroom assistants and dinner ladies have angrily denounced a one per cent wage rise offer from town hall chiefs after months of negotiation against a background of job losses and salary freezes.
If general and municipal (GMB) union leaders receive a mandate they have already declared a 24-hour walk-out on July 10.
Already a consultatative vote has backed the move to an official strike ballot by more than 83 per cent.
A spokesman for the GMB’s public services membership in Wigan said: “GMB members in councils and schools have spoken loud and clear: They do not want another low pay offer and they are prepared to do something about it.
“Members have asked the union to instigate an official strike ballot which the GMB executive has now approved.
“We will be balloting members next month and if the result is positive we plan to strike on July 10.
“Industrial action is not our member’s preference but faced with years pay freezes, low pay, cuts and job losses they are saying enough is enough.”
He pointed out that the Wigan authority staff had only a one per cent pay rise in the last five years and it is a “terrible indictment” on council employers that the national minimum wage had “now caught up with them”.
The spokesman said: “It’s scandalous to think that people who work for councils could not legally be paid any less, yet day in and day out they serve their communities in schools and academies, care homes, emptying bins and cleaning streets, protecting vulnerable children and all the other jobs they do.
The net result was that council staff have had 18 per cent “in real terms” pay cut and “enough was enough”.
A spokesman for the council declined to comment on the General and Municipal Boilermakers union’s comments on behalf of staff, saying it would be “prematutre” to do so at this stage.
Meanwhile, Unite has announced it will ask health workers if they want to press ahead with a vote on industrial action in protest at the Government’s decision not to accept a recommended across-the-board one per cent wage rise for NHS staff.
The consultative voting is set to finish at the close of this month, after which Unite will decide whether to hold a ballot for strikes. Members have already rejected the pay offer by more than 90 per cent.