Thurrock Council deeply disappointed at strike extension plans

23 April 2021

Thurrock Council is extremely disappointed that Unite, the trade union, plans to extend strike action by a further 3 weeks from Monday 10 May.

The council has been informed that this extension to strike action, which was expected to end on Friday 7 May, will see all out action covering the 3 week period by Unite members causing further unnecessary and costly disruption to waste collection services and residents across the borough.

This is especially concerning following a lengthy conciliation meeting held just yesterday afternoon (Thursday 22 April) between the council and the 3 recognised trade unions (Unite, GMB and Unison), facilitated by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) to seek a resolution to the dispute with Unite and a find a way forward in meeting the shared commitment in the Collective Agreement. The council believed that good progress was made in the meeting with all parties confirming commitment to ongoing talks, this announcement indicates that Unite's attendance appears to have been wholly disingenuous.

The council will continue to do whatever it can to mitigate the impact of this needless action on its services to Thurrock's residents.

The council has remained clear that the pay review is not reducing salaries and is not delivering savings, staff are continuing to see salaries increasing year on year which, in the majority of cases, will more than balance out any financial impact from changes to allowances.

In total, 188 staff are negatively impacted by the current proposals being consulted on and the council remains committed to compensating all eligible staff negatively impacted overall. There is no intention for any member of staff to lose out financially from the pay review overall.

After the pay review carried out by the council in 2018, a new pay scale was introduced in April 2019 which resulted in 68% of staff receiving pay increases above what they would have received under the old scheme. Due to a large investment in pay, it was agreed with all 3 trade unions that there would subsequently be a review of the benefits and allowances currently paid to staff.

The agreement made by all unions in April 2019, included a council investment of a further £800,000 into pay up front in the first year of the 4-year pay deal and 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. It is deeply disappointing that this agreement has been reneged on and further disrespected with the extension to strike action today, despite Unite's public declaration of wishing to negotiate.

Some trade unions continue to misinform their members and Thurrock's residents, presenting inaccurate and misleading information. The council continues to greatly value all of its staff and will continue communicating directly to reassure them and ensure the factual position is clear.