Norwich City Council workers set strike dates over broken promises
- Thursday 13 May 2021
Workers who carry out vital services for Norwich City Council will take strike action beginning on 26 May after attempts by the unions to resolve the dispute were rejected by management.
Unite members working for arms-length company Norwich City Services Ltd (NCSL) will take action from 26 May to 2 June and UNISON will take strike action on 26, 27, 28 May and 1, 2 June. In the Unite ballot 83% of the workers backed industrial action on a 90 per cent turnout and UNISON members voted 81 per cent in favour of strike action on a turnout of 84 per cent.
After the workers overwhelmingly voted for action last week, the unions gave the council an opportunity to negotiate a new set of proposals but the council rejected their efforts, leaving Unite and UNISON no choice but to set strike dates. Both parties have now agreed to meet conciliation service ACAS today (Thursday 13 May) for talks.
The unions have been in discussions since 2018 with Norwich City Council (NCC) regarding the formation of the new arm’s length company NCSL. The company has been set up to bring services, including ground maintenance and street cleaning which had been outsourced to Norse, back in-house but new bosses refused to honour pledges to bring workers' pay up to the level of directly employed staff.
The workers transferring in have some of the lowest pay rates and terms of employment; much worse than any council worker. The company's offer on pay, sickness and holidays falls well short of what is required to make progress.
Unite regional officer, Adam Oakes said: “Norwich City Council had a golden opportunity to enter into negotiations to thrash out a deal. Instead the management has opted to do nothing. As a result the workers have set strike dates and disruption which could have been avoided now looks likely.
"The council needs to honour the commitments it has made to these workers who are low paid, who do not get company sick pay and are not part of the local government pension scheme. The unions have made a fair and reasonable offer. We urge management to get serious about resolving this dispute, otherwise responsibility for the disruption to local services lies with the council.”
UNISON Norfolk branch secretary Jonathan Dunning adds: “Hopefully the City Council will recognise the small amount of cash required to settle this dispute will be value for money. £83,000 to deliver the first step towards equality for low paid workers and to keep streets clean and safe over a bank holiday week seems a bargain to me. Our members have compromised on what it would take to settle this dispute, it is now down to the council.
"Staff are bending over backwards to avoid industrial action and settle this dispute, it's now down to the council.”
Unite contact: Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315