William Eichler 24 January 2020

Pay dispute threatens to ‘disrupt’ council tax collection

Pay dispute threatens to ‘disrupt’ council tax collection image

Update: The planned strike has been suspended to allow further talks to take place.

Newham council faces ‘significant disruption’ to council tax collection and rebates when staff stage a week-long strike in a job evaluation row.

A dozen council tax benefit managers will strike for five days starting on Monday because of what they argue is the council’s failure to properly implement a job evaluation scheme.

The union Unite says that the managers have been ‘incorrectly graded’ by the evaluation scheme. They claim that individual staff have lost an estimated £4,000-a-year since 2011.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab described the job evaluation scheme as ‘disgraceful’.

‘There will be significant disruption in council tax collection and also in issuing urgent rebates to some of the poorer residents living in the borough,’ he said.

‘The dispute is about the employer’s failure to properly implement a job evaluation scheme which has led to our members being wrongly graded and, as a result, being wrongly paid.

‘This has led to salary losses of several thousands of pounds annually – one estimate has the loss at about £4,000-a-year going back to 2011. It is a disgraceful state of affairs.’

Newham council was hit by industrial action last year when Unite took up the cases of refuse workers in a grading dispute and housing repairs’ staff who were objecting to a new pay structure.

‘This is yet another example where Newham council is failing to abide by an agreed pay and grading system, and follows the previous ballots for strike action involving our members in the finance section, waste services and repairs’ management,’ said Mr Kasab.

‘Once again, we have issued notice for strike action so that dedicated employees are paid what is rightfully theirs.’

‘Newham council can prevent this strike by coming to an agreement which is acceptable to our members. It is easy to resolve – just pay people what they are owed,’ he added.

Althea Loderick, Newham Council’s chief executive and head of paid service, said: 'We are aware of the proposed industrial action by a number of staff members in the Council Tax team.

'There have been helpful discussions with local Unite trade union representatives and we are working together to find a solution to the matter with offers under active consideration by both parties.

'Newham Council values all its staff and the trade unions they are members of. We are committed to negotiating in good faith and constructively with Unite to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.'

One year on, councils will be central to recovery image

One year on, councils will be central to recovery

After an extraordinary year, council staff are exhausted, worn down and facing further cuts, says Heather Jameson. But she has no doubt they will continue to rise to the challenge 'whether it is in an office, at home or on a laptop anywhere'.
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