Customer service assistants, employed by Sandwell council, who are members of Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, will begin industrial action on Friday 10 May, in a pay dispute over job grading.

100 per cent in favour of action

The 14 members of Unite voted 100 per cent in favour of industrial action on an 85.7 per cent turnout.

The dispute is a result of a botched job evaluation process which failed to take into account the emotional demands that the workers have to face, as they act as the frontline of council services, dealing with demanding issues such as homelessness cases.

No work when not assessed

As part of the industrial action the customer assistants will not undertake work which they were not assessed on. This includes:

  • Not dealing with any eviction queries
  • Not dealing with any deaths due to emotional demands
  • Not exchange information with MPs
  • Not exchange information with the police
  • Not exchange information with contractors
  • Not exchange information with other council departments
  • Not exchange information with the private sector
  • Not exchange information with owner occupiers
  • Not deal with any queries from councillors
  • Not deal with any homelessness cases
  • Not deal with any anti-social behaviour cases. 

Low pay

The affected workers are paid between £19,000 - £20,000 per annum and Unite believes that if the job evaluation process had been properly applied, the workers will eventually earn an additional £5,000 per annum.

Unite has sought to resolve the issue through negotiation but its attempts have been repeatedly rebuffed by Sandwell council.

Botched job evaluation

Unite regional officer Brian Rickers said: “Sandwell council has botched its job evaluation exercise and failed to consider the demanding roles our members undertake for and on behalf of the general public.

“Rather than deal with the problem Sandwell has put its head in the sand and hoped that it would go away.

“Our members will not continue to allow themselves to be exploited and are being forced to take industrial action as a last resort.

“As Sandwell council has refused to acknowledge key parts of the roles that customer assistants undertake it is only reasonable that they withdraw from performing these roles.

“The industrial action will inevitably cause disruption to the service that Sandwell provides to its residents but this is entirely of the council’s own making and which has the power to resolve it.”


Notes to editors:

Members of Unison are also affected by the job grading exercise and have voted in favour of industrial action.

For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235. Email: [email protected]

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.