Published Tuesday, 2nd March 2021

The Council was yesterday (1 March) informed by GMB Union, which represents some members of the Council’s Neighbourhood Services staff, that its members have voted for strike action by 27 votes to 17.

This is in relation to a dispute over the 1.3% pay award to staff approved by the Council for the 2021/22 financial year.

Cllr Mark Brunt, Council Leader, responds to the proposed strike action.

‘This decision from GMB members follows months of discussions about the 2021/22 pay award between Officers and Union representatives from Unison and GMB, as well as the Council’s Staff Association. These discussions form part of our annual budget setting process and are in line with our local bargaining arrangements for pay and conditions.

‘We are disappointed that GMB members - a small proportion of the Council’s staff – have rejected the 1.3% pay award. We stand by the award which, as well as being accepted by our major recognised Union – UNISON, we feel recognises the hard work and dedication of our staff, while also reflecting the financial challenges we face as a council, and the broader national picture. This award is in addition to a one-off payment we made to all employees in August last year as a thank you for their incredible commitment and efforts.

‘We are incredibly proud of our dedicated key workers, who have responded valiantly to a range of challenges throughout this unprecedented year to keep our essential services running and provide support to our communities and local businesses.

‘We would challenge the GMB’s statement that we are ‘racing to the bottom’ in terms of an award. A 1.3% award is one of the highest being offered across the Surrey Local Authorities this year and follows a 2.3% award last year. We face unprecedented times as a Council but stand by how important our staff and their efforts are, hence why we have committed to this award despite many other authorities freezing pay and making cuts.

‘We hope that GMB reconsiders its position and that strike action can still be avoided.

‘I would like to reassure residents that we are putting in place plans to minimise any disruption to our essential services, on which we know they rely, should strike action go ahead.’

Contrary to what GMB have reporting in their own statement and social media posts, the Council remains open to discussions with GMB and has been in contact with ACAS to discuss mediation, with the aim of avoiding strike action.

The Council will update its website and social media channels with details of any service disruption should strike action go ahead.