Trade unions will now ballot their members across all of the city and county’s local authorities – and at 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 (NJC) “wholly inadequate” – saying school and council staff have been “working tirelessly” during the pandemic.
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.
Council papers show that the matter will be discussed at the Gedling Borough Council Joint Consultative and Safety Committee on November 16. Other local councils are expected to discuss the risk of action.
Pay for workers in local government and schools is negotiated in a forum called the National Joint Council (NJC), which has two sides – council employers and trade unions.
Every council in Nottinghamshire is part of the NJC, meaning every authority would be affected if members choose to strike.
Unison head of local government Mike Short said workers are “appallingly undervalued”.
He said: “Council and school workers continued working tirelessly throughout successive lockdowns. Their efforts ensured communities were safe, the vulnerable received care and schools remained open.
“But they’re under-appreciated and 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 and reward them properly.”
A GMB spokesperson added: “GMB members working across councils, local authorities and schools recently voted overwhelmingly to reject the pay cuts being proposed by local government employers.
“The offer on the table is wholly inadequate and with energy bills skyrocketing, shopping bills going up, and inflation high and rising, it represents yet 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 working in councils, local government and schools have shown how indispensable you are. They are true Covid heroes, keeping the nation’s essential public services going during the toughest of times, often putting your own health and safety at risk.“That’s why we will be asking members to vote in an indicative ballot on taking strike action or industrial action short of strike action across local government.”
If more than 50 per cent of affected staff say yes to strike action, they will proceed to a legal industrial action ballot.
In a letter to the union negotiating team, dated October 19, the council employers’ team said they would not make further offers because many authorities would not be able to afford more.
They wrote: “You are aware of the financial situation in the sector; the employers are therefore obliged to ensure that they represent the interests of local authorities by ensuring that any pay offer is shaped in such a way that it is affordable and fair to both employers and employees.”