Unite, the trade union, has notified the council that they plan to take strike action from 13 April until 7 May. This is extremely disappointing given that formal consultation is ongoing with all 3 trade unions and directly with staff. The council is very much around the discussion table and this has been the case throughout.
Any statement suggesting the council is not in full and open engagement with the trade unions is simply not true. Unite did not even wait to see the details of the formal consultation before they decided to ballot for strike action.
The council cannot be clear enough: the proposals do not affect pay, a point that Unite has been advised of many times. The proposals are to review allowances, an approach agreed fully by all trade unions and signed as a collective agreement with the council.
Put simply, all the trade unions agreed fully to review allowances. The proposals which are part of the consultation are exactly those that were agreed to be reviewed with the unions. Again, to suggest otherwise is not true.
The strike action covers Unite members in the clean and green, highways and waste teams and will result in unnecessary, disruptive and potentially damaging and costly action when they could choose to play a more meaningful role in the ongoing formal consultation process on proposed changes to allowances instead. The council remains open to discussion and to work through the impact of changes to the allowances for all affected staff, including providing compensation where appropriate.
The strike action proposed by the union will affect every resident in Thurrock, impacting waste collections, street cleaning, parks and cemeteries. The council will work hard to minimise disruption to residents and ensure affected services run as smoothly as possible during any possible strike periods.
Unite presented misleading information to their members as they balloted them and continues to do so. The claims that the council are reducing and slashing pay are incorrect and take no account of the increases in salaries that were implemented as part of the agreement that will see the majority of staff better-off.
Thurrock Council remains committed to the collective agreement signed by all unions in April 2019, which included a council investment of a further £800,000 into pay up front in the first year of the 4-year pay deal and an agreement they would 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. Unite has reneged on this agreement and in addition are using their members to cause maximum disruption for residents.
The council has valued, and continues to value, all of its staff and will be communicating directly to reassure staff and ensure the factual position is clear.
Thurrock Council has a duty to make the best use of council tax. The changes proposed remove outdated and inefficient allowances that do not represent value for money or reflect a modern council.