Members of Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, working in a Rochdale housing association are to be balloted for strike action in a dispute over low pay.

The 170 plus members of Unite, employed by Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH), have seen their pay cut by 21.7 per cent in recent years, as a result of a series of pay freezes and below inflation pay increases. The housing association was hived off from Rochdale council and manages 13,500 homes

Unite members have rejected a below inflation pay offer of two per cent. However, rather than return to the negotiating table RBH instead imposed the pay offer on the staff, which has caused widespread anger and damaged industrial relations.

Workers will begin balloting for industrial action, including strike action on Wednesday 8 May and the ballot will close on Wednesday 29 May. If the membership votes for industrial action, strikes could begin in June.

Unite regional officer Tanya Sweeney said: “Members of Unite will not accept a further real terms pay cut. Year on year workers have been getting poorer.

“Industrial relations have been further damaged by the ham-fisted manner in which the management at RBH has gone about responding to the dispute. Rather than return to negotiations, they instead imposed the offer, which has just caused further ill feeling among staff.

“If RBH wants to avoid strike action then it needs to return to the negotiating table with an offer which at least begins to meet our members’ expectations.”