Unite delegate and local authority worker for Leeds City Council Mark Pratt spoke passionately in a debate about local government cuts and pay on Monday (September 27) at Labour conference.
He called the government’s pay offer of 1.75 per cent “more than just an insult”.
“With inflation and the cost of living spiking it is a calculated pay cut,” Mark pointed out, adding that it was “one more cut that follows the thousands before it”.
“Our frontline workers – emptying our bins, cleaning our streets, caring for older people, our young and vulnerable and working through the pandemic –have faced a decade of such cuts,” he said. “It has been a decade of having to do more with less.”
Mark highlighted how over the last decade, local government workers have lost an astonishing quarter of their wages in real terms, even as the cost of living has kept rising.
“Now it’s time to fight back,” he vowed. “The victory of the bin workers at Bexley shows us the way. Their victorious six week strike resulted in workers moving from some of the worst pay rates in London, to some of the best.”
Mark told conference how Unite members are now balloting to reject the government’s insulting offer and collectively they are sending a clear message – “that we are worth more”.
“And it’s time for this Party to show the courage of its convictions,” he added. “Let’s pile pressure on this government to fully fund our councils – and stop playing casino politics with public sector pay and services.”
Noting that Unite is at the forefront of getting a better deal for local government workers and public service users, Mark concluded, “Let’s win a proper pay rise. We deserve it. We’ve earnt it. Please stand with us now.”
By Hajera Blagg
Pic by Mark Thomas