Thursday, 17 July 2008

Green Councillors join Unison town hall pickets (from Green Party website 17/6/2008)

Councillors are picketing Brighton Town Hall alongside Unison members

Green Councillors in Brighton have joined Unison members on the picket line outside the Town Hall, while Greens across the country are supporting other strike actions.

Brighton Councillor Ben Duncan was the only politician to address yesterday's Unison rally in Brighton, and is joining strikers on the picket this morning. In his speech yesterday, he said:

"Gordon Brown says we all have to tighten our belts in the face of tough economic times - of rising food, housing and transport costs. He says spending money ensuring wages for some of the lowest-paid keep up with inflation will push that inflation still higher. What nonsense. The reality is the current economic downturn has been caused by an out-of-control banking industry and an over dependence on depleting oil reserves. So, what does the government do? It spends £50 billion bailing out the banks, and billions more fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to secure oil reserves. Meanwhile, it says we cant afford to take the economic 'risk' of paying public sector workers the same as we did just a few years ago."

Principal Speaker Derek Wall also supports the strikers, saying: "I am proud that the Green Party is fully in support of today's action and that Greens nationwide are rallying to support Unison. It is all very well for Alistair Darling to call for pay 'restraint' but when inflation is rising at 3.8%, an offer of 2.45% is actually a pay cut. Hardworking public sector workers need to be paid properly; they should not be made to foot the bill for New Labour's economic failings."

At last weekend's conference of the Green Party Trade Union Group, which was held in Brighton, local Green MEP Caroline Lucas told delegates:

"The Green Party's record of championing Trade Union priorities, from defending public services from privatisation through to promoting a Living Wage, demonstrates that the Greens are the real party of social justice."

The Green MEP for London, Jean Lambert, specialises in employment and equality issues, and said: "I wholeheartedly support UNISON's call for fair pay for local Government workers. New research has found that public sector wages are around 30% lower than in the private sector and that is not beneficial for workers or for public services. As the cost of living increases public sector workers should not be expected to suffer disproportionately. Local government workers deserve a fair deal and that is why I am supporting the strike action on 16th and 17th July."

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