Leeds refuse workers vote for strike action as council ‘fails to grasp the solution available’.

20 Aug 2009

Leeds refuse workers vote for strike action as council ‘fails to grasp the solution available’.

Members of the GMB union in Leeds City Council have voted for strike action in a dispute over the council’s proposals to cut their pay by up to £5,000 per year.  The result of the ballot is 79.7% to take industrial action short of strike and 66.9 % for strike action.

The workers, all employed in the council’s ‘street scene’ department – responsible for refuse collection, street cleaning and waste disposal – are unhappy at Leeds City Council’s failure to seize on a solution to the dispute which is on the table.

Unions have been working with the council over recent months on the modernisation proposals which the council are seeking to implement and which union negotiators hoped would also address the planned pay cuts due to take effect from February 2011.

GMB and management have reached preliminary agreement over modernisation – which has seen a reduction from over 19 existing job descriptions to three and unions agreeing to a more flexible approach to work and more responsibilities for the staff.  In return unions hoped that the issues over pay could be resolved.

As the jobs will carry more responsibility and require more flexibility, they merit more points under the council’s job evaluation scheme.  More points means higher pay and a preliminary job evaluation exercise has resulted in the jobs being re-graded upwards to the extent that the pay cuts would no longer be required or substantially reduced.

Leeds City Council has however refused to accept the re-graded score and discussions on the modernisation have come to a halt.

Commenting on the strike vote Neil Derrick, Senior Organiser GMB said:

“GMB members have done all that they can to work with the council to commit to modernisation, in return they are being told that pay cuts will be their only reward.  Enough is enough; our members are prepared to do their bit but where is the council’s commitment to them?  A solution to this impasse is available and yet the council are not prepared to seize it leaving our members with no other option but to show to their strength of feeling through a campaign of industrial action, which I fear, will be long and bitter”.

For further information/comment, contact Neil Derrick, GMB Senior Organiser on:  0845 337 7777 (Office) 07958 156 832 (Mobile)