Hundreds of thousands of workers are deciding now whether to join the ranks of what is now poised to be the biggest co-ordinated public-sector strike in years.
Two million public-sector workers could now join a July 10 mass walkout with the result of a ballot of general union GMB’s 220,000 local government members revealed this week.
Unison, Unite and PCS members are also being balloted in protest at a pay offer worth 1 per cent for most local authority employees.
Members of teachers’ union NUT have backed a strike and will join the July 10 walkout if talks with ministers do not progress.
Speaking in Nottingham, GMB national officer Brian Strutton said: “Local government workers are the lowest-paid in the public sector — over half a million earn less than the living wage.
“The employers should invest in their workforce for a change instead of freezing council tax.
“The prospect is that up to two million public-sector workers will be on strike on July 10.”
Public-sector union PCS, whose members will be balloted on Thursday, said co-ordinated action was necessary to fend off attacks on public-sector pay.
“We have been saying for a long time that we need co-ordinated action so we welcome the other unions’ decisions,” said a spokesman.
And Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail urged her union’s members to vote for industrial action.
“Anger is mounting among the people who deliver the services we value and use every day,” she said.
“Faced with belligerent employers and a hostile government intent on driving down pay, it’s time to take a stand.
“This is why we are urging our members to vote for industrial action and campaigning with other unions for fair pay in the public sector.”
Pat Harrington, general secretary of the Solidarity union, commented:
"The battle over pay brings together council workers across England and Wales and opens up the possibility of coordinated action with teachers and civil servants on 10 July. In the Autumn further action can also be coordinated with health and other public sector workers. Attempts to underpay public workers and follow the austerity agenda must be broken by united union action supported by public protests".