Thousands of Norfolk and Suffolk council workers could strike over pay dispute

Unison pay day protest at County Hall. Photo: Bill Smith Unison pay day protest at County Hall. Photo: Bill Smith

Thursday, May 22, 2014
8:26 AM

Thousands of council workers and school support staff across Norfolk and Suffolk could be set to strike over what union leaders describe as a “miserly” pay rise offer.

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Trade union Unison will start balloting its members tomorrow over whether industrial action should be taken after 70pc of its members nationally rejected a pay offer of 1pc for those earning more than £14,880.

If there is a ‘yes’ vote and the union’s industrial action committee gives the green light, then industrial action will start in July.

Jonathan Dunning, Unison branch secretary at Norfolk County Council, where some 4,000 workers are union members, said: “Council worker pay has been cut by 20pc in real terms since 2010. We are being told the economy is on the up yet the national employers have offered a miserly 1pc which is well below the rate of inflation.

“With fewer council workers expected to do more work to the same quality this is an insult too far. That is why UNISON members have called for the offer to be rejected and for them to be balloted on industrial action.”

Yesterday, members of the union protested outside County Hall, the headquarters of Norfolk County Council.

Mr Dunning said: “The demonstration is part of a national day of protest that is seeking to draw this to local employers attention in the hope that they will use their influence within the national employers organisation so as to come up with an improved offer.

“If they come up with a meaningful and fair offer I would hope industrial action will be avoided.”

The ballot will start on Friday and last for four weeks, ending on June 23.

But a spokesman for the Local Government Association said the rise was a fair one and that those on lower salaries would get a higher increase.

The spokesman said: “In an unprecedentedly tough financial climate, councils are committing to ensuring that employees receive a pay rise and that the lowest paid receive the biggest increase.

“It is frustrating that Unison has failed to recognise this. We know that these have been difficult times for the local government workforce, which has worked wonders to keep vital local services running while councils are tackling the biggest cuts in living memory.

“In calling for strike action, Unison is further delaying the process of council employees receiving a pay increase this year.”

• What do you think? Do you think Unison members are right to consider industrial action? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

12 comments

  • I think you hit the nail- or troll- on the head, larson. "V" is a wind up merchant looking for attention, not worth replying to.There are plenty of low paid peiopel who do real work on behalf of the people of Norfolk whose real income is going down. people who care for the elderly and vulnerable spring to mind- my family has benefitted from their dedication as I'm sure have many other Norfolk folk who are decent enough to agree they deserve support and a living wage.

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    Stephen Strange

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • Well, the bins are emptied by private contractors and nobody fills in the potholes any more, so I don't think anyone will be too badly affected if the County Hall chairwarmers go on strike!

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    Norfolk and Good

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • lets see the union follow through and other unions support them, now their case has been made. But this should exclude the top echelon who were excluded from wage cuts and MSR restructuring over the last few years. Lets see other unions come out in support. On the other side, todays expensive electoral exercise will see some of these council workers get extra pay for sitting at polling stations and, I kid you not, using expensive electricity, the local parish council has to pay for in their precept, to heat a parish room, that was 'rather chilly this morning'. Strike? I dare you pus.sy footing union.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • The employers rep says the lowest paid are getting more than 1%. The only reason for this is the National Minimum Wage is anticipated to increase above the rates of these workers. This just highlights that local government workers do not get paid more than the private sector. Private sector average settlements are way above 1% at the moment.

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    Jonny

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • And this will affect me how exactly????

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    Andy T

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • A 1% increase seems quite fair to me given the circumstances. It is a fact that public sector employees are paid more than their private sector equivalents for doing exactly the same type of work. And of course, public sector employees have the benefit of a pension scheme which others can only dream of as well as a more secure job.

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    andy

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • Sorry. I forgot Larson. I dont need to wind anyone up. I do it to you automatically by mentioning councils and your beloved educational lying establishment the UEA. Also. If I am a troll, you must be too as you always answer me :-)

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    "V"

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • SS. People in the real world have had either the same percentage pay rise or none at all. What makes these "workers" so special ?. Answers on the back of a postage stamp please SS. Morning Larson. Nice to see you are on top form today ?

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    "V"

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • " V "...is a well known Archant forum troll whose only purpose is to post offensive and provocative rubbish in the desperate hope of winding someone up. Apparently this adds meaning and purpose to his life.

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    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • If all the council "workers" at County Hall went on strike I'm sure it would be a very long time before anyone noticed!

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    Citizen of EUSSR

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • The usual ignorant, uninformed and plain stupid remarks from "V". For the past few years local government workers have had no pay rise under the governments austerity measure. This years its 1%. During this time real incomes have fallen due to inflation. To describe low paid workers seeking a modest pay rise when the economic conditions ar improving as "greed bast*rds" is insulting and ignorant.

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    Stephen Strange

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • If they are going to go on strike, then strike properly, with an all out strike an not these pathetic efforts like the fire brigade, which have no effect whatsoever, other than in their wage packets.

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    John L Norton

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

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