Thousands of Unite members employed in local government, whose pay and conditions are covered by the ‘craft red book’ agreement, and primarily undertake housing maintenance roles, have voted to reject the employers pay offer.

The workers voted to reject the two per cent pay offer made by local government employers and are urging employers to enter into negotiations.

Unite members are angry at the way that local government employers have conducted the pay negotiations.

Unite accused employers of deliberately and cynically delaying making a formal pay offer and when they did finally do so it was presented as a ‘first and final offer’ breaching International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention, -Labour Relations (Public Service) Convention, 1978 (No.15) that states: ‘The convention promotes collective bargaining for public employees, as well as other methods allowing public employees’ representatives to participate in the determination of their conditions of employment. It also provides that disputes shall be settled through negotiation between the parties or through independent and impartial machinery, such as mediation, conciliation and arbitration…’

Unite, the UK’s largest union, is also highly disappointed that local government employers failed to allow the union time to ballot its members over the pay offer and instead imposed the increase.

The ‘red book’ covers craft workers in England and Wales who predominantly work in housing maintenance and are responsible for the upkeep of local authority housing and other buildings.

Unite national officer for local government Jim Kennedy said: “Unite members covered by the ‘red book’ have rejected the pay offer, and while our members are not currently minded to further the claim through action, this should not be interpreted by the employers as Unite standing back, in fact the opposite is the case.

“Unite will be challenging the employers through a raft of measures to come back to the negotiating table and start treating our members with the respect their deserve.

“Employers need to stop treating craft workers with disdain, they play an essential role in maintaining and improving council housing and they deserve that their skills and hard work are fully appreciated.”


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.  Email:

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.