Unite Labour staff vote for strike action over real-terms pay cut

Sienna Rodgers

Labour staff represented by the Unite trade union have voted in favour of strike action over a pay offer of 2% that amounts to a real-terms pay cut, while those represented by GMB union have “reluctantly” voted in favour of accepting the deal.

The deal covers employees in Labour’s London headquarters, Southside, and its regional offices. The results of the indicative ballots mean GMB will not move to a full ballot for strike action, but Unite still has the option of doing so.

Unite officer Matt Smith said: “Unite members have rejected this well below inflation pay offer in favour of strike action. The Labour Party has now requested for a further meeting which we have agreed to. We will report back any developments to our members next week.”

GMB members voted to accept the pay deal by 61.5% to 37.5%. A GMB spokesman said: “Our ballot closed today and GMB members reluctantly voted to accept the offer.”

Labour’s Unite branch is expected to meet on February 4th. LabourList understands that Labour management will be meeting with both Unite the Union and GMB next week following the ballots.

It was revealed by Politico earlier this month that Labour is asking staff to accept a real-terms pay cut as the party deals with the loss of more than £3m due to falling membership and reduced financial support from trade unions.

The leadership hopes to compensate for the reduced funding streams with private donations from high-net-worth individuals, particularly as Labour’s position in the polls improves and Boris Johnson’s premiership is mired in crises.

Both Unite and GMB Labour staff voted for strike action as recently as August 2021, after the party did not rule out compulsory redundancies. Around 80 staff took up voluntary redundancy and strike action was ultimately avoided.

Southside and regional staff were reorganised via the ‘Organise to Win’ restructuring process. LabourList sources now say the leader’s office is also being ‘streamlined’ to avoid having a “shadow operation” and to cut costs further.

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