Council and schools staff in Notts could strike over pay dispute

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Council and school staff across Nottinghamshire could take strike action after unions rejected a proposed 1.75 per cent increase in wages.

Trade unions will now ballot their members across all of the county’s local authorities – and councils across the country – on a potential national walk out after members turned down the offer.

Unions Unison and GMB had asked for a 10 per cent increase in wages and called the 1.75 per cent offer from the National Joint Council ‘inadequate’.

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Unison members voted 79 per cent to 21 per cent to reject the NJC offer, while GMB members voted 75 per cent to 25 per cent to reject.

GMB staff on strike in another dispute.GMB staff on strike in another dispute.
GMB staff on strike in another dispute.

Pay for workers in local government and schools is negotiated by the NJC, comprising council employers and trade unions.

Every Nottinghamshire council is part of the NJC, meaning every authority would be affected if members choose to strike.

Mike Short, Unison head of local government, said workers are ‘appallingly undervalued’.

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He said: “Council and school workers continued working tirelessly throughout lockdowns, but this offer – a wage cut in all but name – shows they’re appallingly undervalued. Pay is slipping while the cost of living spirals.

“Employers must do the right thing and come back with a decent wage rise to recognise those who provide vital services.”

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A GMB spokesman said: “The offer on the table is inadequate and, with bills skyrocketing, it represents another pay cut for workers who have seen a quarter of the value of their pay wiped out since 2010.

“Over the last year, GMB members in councils and schools have shown how indispensable they are. They are Covid heroes, keeping the nation’s essential public services going during the toughest of times, often putting their own health and safety at risk.

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“That’s why we’ll be asking members to vote in an indicative ballot on taking industrial action.”

Mariam Amos, Mansfield Council strategic director, said: “In the event of a trade union ballot outcome where members voted in favour of strike action, we would do everything we could to minimise the impact on services and ensure residents, businesses and visitors were kept informed about how any services were affected.”

Coun Gordon Wheeler, Nottinghamshire Council personnel committee chairman, said: “The council and its maintained schools are part of national pay bargaining arrangements and as such we are not in a position to influence pay negotiations at a national level.

“We are aware of the outcome of the indicative ballots held by Unison, GMB and Unite trade unions where their collective memberships chose to reject the best and final pay offer made by the National Employers.

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“We are also aware of the intention to ballot on possible industrial action.

“While we are disappointed an agreement has not been reached, we remain committed to working with our local trade union colleagues to ensure we work together to provide the best outcomes for our employees and their members wherever possible.

“We will continue to do so whatever the outcome of the ballot for industrial action and follow our agreed service business/service continuity processes to manage the situation should it arise.”

Ashfield Council has also been approached for comment.

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