Friday 23 February 2024
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Nottingham

Council facing potential strike action as pay negotiations stall

A Nottinghamshire council says negotiations with unions over pay for its staff members have come to an ‘impasse’ and there is now potential for strike action.

For Gedling Borough Council workers in local government and schools, pay and other conditions are determined by a negotiating body called the National Joint Council (NJC).

In January this year a pay claim was tabled by the NJC, on behalf of unions Unison, GMB and Unite, for a pay rise of 12.7 per cent.

NJC also asked for a minimum rate of £15, compared to the current rate of £11.18.

Changes to terms and conditions were requested, including a reduction in the working week by two hours, extra welfare leave and the application of a home working allowance.

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Meanwhile, the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) has been negotiating on behalf of council chief executives and chief officers.

For chief executives, the JNC has submitted a pay claim for a rise in salary not less than the equivalent to the percentage award that will be applied to the top pay point in the national NJC scale.

Similarly, the JNC for chief officers asked for a 3.5 per cent rise and an additional two days’ leave.

According to the council, settlement has not been achieved for any of the groups other than with the JNC for chief officers, which includes the council’s directors and heads of service.

After negotiations for chief officers were successful, a pay rise of 3.5 per cent came into effect from April 1 this year.

The National Employers’ side, which includes Gedling Borough Council, has since made a “full and final offer” for an increase of £1,925 per year and 3.88 per cent for higher earners such as chief executives.

But during a Joint Consultative and Safety Committee meeting on August 29, the council said “Up to now there has been no real movement forward”.

“What we have is something of an impasse,” councillors were told during the meeting.

“There is potential for strike action. The ballot results aren’t run at a national level, they are broken down employer by employer, so what it does do is present more opportunity for there to be strike action at some councils.

“Which ones we don’t know and that is obviously a matter of concern. Obviously, we don’t want to be facing strike action at the council but there can be no promises.”

GMB says its strike ballots will open on September 12 and close on October 24, while Unison’s ballots closed at the end of July.

So far the Government has not committed to providing any further financial support to help local authorities pay for the proposed pay increases if negotiations are successful.

Cllr Russell Whiting, who represents Colwick for Labour, added:

“The position was stated there that inflation has started to abate, but that obviously doesn’t mean prices are coming down, it means they are going up slightly slower than they were, although food inflation is still pretty high and I’m sure members of our staff are all suffering.

“Given that and the fact there has been no progress, I was wondering if it was possible for the council to write to the Government and urge them to get back round the negotiating table?

“This isn’t just hurting our workforce through our colleagues in the trade union movement, but it is also hanging over the council and we need to be able to do some planning, and financial planning, if there is to be some strike action.”

Councillors were informed the recommendation would be communicated up to East Midlands Councils, which represents the interests of local councils to the Government.

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