Socialist Worker

Coventry council workers vote for action over single status - twice

Issue No. 2019

A new wave of strikes is likely at Coventry City Council in a long-running dispute over pay.

Unison members voted 100 percent for strike action.Workers who take cash payments over the counter - including council tax payments and parking fines - have voted for strike action. Street cleaners and the schools admission team, which oversees the process allocating pupils to schools, have also voted for action.

Unions are fighting against sweeping changes to pay and conditions imposed last June on thousands of council workers.

Some staff - including refuse collectors - lost as much as £9,000 a year.

Unison has lodged 430 equal pay claims at industrial tribunals, claiming low paid women workers such as cleaners were unfairly paid less than men in different but similarly skilled jobs.

Unison’s Neil Swatman said, “We’re not happy with the weekend and evening working enhancement rates.

“We’d like more money to be put in the paybill. What we find is a lot of low paid workers are taking a big hit.”

The workers involved in the strike ballot have already voted for action once but their strike was postponed after the council used anti-union laws to stop it.

The national single status deal was reached nine years ago between local government employers and national trade unions. It followed a number of successful employment tribunal cases on equal pay.

Local authorities agreed they would equalise wages and conditions and in return trade unions let it be understood that tribunal cases would halt.

The government has refused to give local authorities extra funds to pay for those who gain from the deal, so their money has to be balanced out by losers.

The Unison branch was expected to announce strike days this week.

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Sat 23 Sep 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2019
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