WORKERS who carry out vital services for Norwich City Council have overwhelmingly voted for industrial action.
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.
Unite and Unison will now begin preparations to announce strike dates at the council’s new arm’s length company called Norwich City Services Ltd (NCSL) in a dispute over pay and conditions.
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 management is not delivering on commitments the City Council made to union members to harmonise their pay, terms and conditions with their council colleagues. The workers transferring into NCSL have some of the lowest pay rates ans 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 on equality, plus new managers are being recruited on superior terms and conditions compared to existing staff.
The trade unions remain open to discussions, but are warning that their members’ overwhelming support for action should be a signal to NCSL that it needs to significantly improve its offer to avoid disruption in the city. The workers carry out vital services including street cleaning, and the maintenance of the parks and gardens.
Unite regional officer, Adam Oakes said: ‘Our members have sent a clear message to their employer that they are not prepared to accept terms and conditions that are inferior to their directly employed Norwich City Council colleagues.
‘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.
‘These men and women work outside in all weather conditions keeping the city and its parks and gardens clean.
‘Members of both Unite and Unison are overwhelmingly united in their support for industrial action. We urge management to get around the negotiating table to agree a fair deal for the staff.’
Unison Norfolk Branch Secretary Jonathan Dunning added: ‘None of our members want to take strike action, after all they deliver important services that the public rely upon.
‘However they are not prepared to accept a pay deal that sells them short and reneges on commitments they were given by the City Council.
‘They are being treated as second class workers by NCSL and the City Council. All they seek is equality with their council colleagues. Their reasonable pay claim is merely a first step to achieving this.’