(06/08/08) UNISON is urging MPs to help resolve the local government pay dispute by lobbying the Local Government Association.
Negotiations with employers in England, Northern Ireland and Wales are scheduled to reopen later this month and unions have agreed to suspend further action in the meantime.
The agreement to back the talks over pay and conditions follows a two-day strike in July, when around half a million council workers walked out to protest a below-inflation pay offer of 2.45%.
Local government workers have become the 'poor relations' of the public sector, earning thousands of pounds less a year than other public servants, said UNISON senior national officer Lucille Thirlby.
"If we allow this worrying trend to continue, we run the risk of sparking a recruitment and retention crisis," she said.
"Our communities cannot afford to lose staff who provide essential services such as looking after children or teaching them to swim, cleaning our streets or keeping our libraries running smoothly."
Meanwhile, 100,000 UNISON members working in local government in Scotland are gearing up to walk out over a similar below-inflation pay offer.
The union's industrial action committee has given the go ahead for an all-out strike on 20 August.
"Our members have a sound case," said general secretary Dave Prentis. "Inflation has outstripped the pay offer and our members are being hit hard in their pockets with massive hikes in food, fuel, housing and transport."
The union is urging Scottish local government employers to take reopen talks to avoid the strike.