1.4 million town hall staff threaten to strike over pay

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The Government faced the threat of nationwide strikes by 1.4 million local government workers yesterday while firefighters' leaders also warned of industrial action to back a 40 per cent pay increase.

The Government faced the threat of nationwide strikes by 1.4 million local government workers yesterday while firefighters' leaders also warned of industrial action to back a 40 per cent pay increase.

Members of the public service union Unison at town halls all over Britain voted by three to one to reject a "final" 3 per cent pay offer and the union's leaders will now press for a national strike ballot.

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) representatives demanded a £30,000 a year minimum salary for qualified staff compared with the present £21,531 and threatened disruption to emergency services to win it.

Unison, the country's largest union and Labour's biggest financial donor, is expected to urge local authority employees from binmen to social workers to take industrial action this summer – the first by town hall staff since Labour came to power in 1997. The new militancy follows growing grassroots anger over pay and conditions and a campaign by some activists to break the union's links with Labour.

The Unison decision comes after similar votes at the Transport and General Workers' Union and the GMB.

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