THURROCK Council has made clear that Unite the Union choosing to ballot its environment and waste members for strike action will affect every resident.
The ballot for strike action, which if agreed will affect those services used or enjoyed by residents such as waste collection, street cleaning and highways maintenance of pot holes, is based purely on inaccurate statements and speculation – the council has been very clear on this point. The council has not yet submitted any formal proposals and has been in dialogue with all trade unions regarding the outdated allowances and benefits paid to staff.
In April 2019, in line with the council’s overall approach to rewarding and investing staff, a new pay scale was introduced that will result in significant investment in council staff pay by 2023 and the majority of staff, particularly those in the lower and middle grades, saw increased salaries and increased potential salaries.
In the discussions leading to April 2019, the unions requested that the council invest a further £800,000 up front in the first year of the 4 year pay deal. The collective agreement signed by all unions included a commitment to work with the council in the next phase to review ways in which this additional early funding could be off-set through changes to allowances. Unite the Union signed this agreement with the council but by proposing to take this action are disregarding it and the principles the council applies to collective bargaining. Unite the Union has presented misleading information and has claimed the council are reducing pay which is not the case.
Despite Unite the Union’s actions the council will be proceeding to present formal proposals relating to allowances to trade unions by the end of February and will consider rates for overtime, shift working and mileage payments in line with other staff conditions. The proposals do not revisit salaries and pay. The council’s commitment to the ongoing pay review over four years remains and any reports to the contrary are simply not true.
The council’s position remains that Unite the Union’s officials should wait for formal proposals to be presented and engage in constructive discussions based on fact. There is no justification for pre-empting these discussions and no basis for Unite the Union to declare a dispute. Thurrock Council invites Unite the Union to cancel the ballot for industrial action and join management in meaningful discussion and consultation.