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Council workers to strike during local elections in row over pay

About 200 workers at Renfrewshire Council will strike in a row over pay affecting local elections next week (David Cheskin/PA)
About 200 workers at Renfrewshire Council will strike in a row over pay affecting local elections next week (David Cheskin/PA)

Upcoming local elections could be affected as 200 employees at Renfrewshire Council are set to strike in a row over pay.

Craft workers at the local authority voted unanimously to walk out starting at 8am on Tuesday, May 3, until Friday, May 6, at 1pm. An overtime ban will also be in place during this time.

The tradespeople and apprentices work within building services at the council and are responsible for setting up and dismantling the polling stations. They were also due to deliver the ballot boxes to the count at the polls next week.

Unite the Union, who represent the workers, said that Renfrewshire Council has offered members a below inflation pay rise. The union also claimed the council threatened to remove workers when notice of the strike was served.

According to Unite, the move could be in breach of the Employment Relations Act (1999). The council may have to pay workers compensation if courts rule in favour of Unite.

Sharon Graham, general secretary of Unite, said: “Unite’s craft workers are rightly angry not only at the below inflation pay offer at a time of punishing living costs, but at the potentially illegal and costly actions by Renfrewshire Council.

“The council has to make a more acceptable offer to our members.

“Our members have their union’s full support in fighting for better jobs, terms and conditions.”

James O’Connell, Unite industrial officer, added: “Unite’s members in the trades and our apprentices have reached the end of their patience with Renfrewshire Council’s mind games.

“Strike action will now hit the forthcoming elections and we do not rule out taking further action beyond May 6. The council should get back round the negotiating table rather than deliberately taking steps to escalate this dispute.”

A Renfrewshire Council spokesperson said: “We remain fully committed to continuing positive negotiations with Unite the Union to find an agreed position for our building services workforce as quickly as possible, and a pre-arranged meeting with Unite has taken place today.

“We have been working closely with the union regarding mutually agreed changes to our building services staff’s terms and conditions and a recent offer to our staff arising from our negotiations was agreed and recommended for acceptance to their members, but was unfortunately rejected by the workforce. These discussions are entirely separate from the national pay discussions which are led by COSLA.

“As we have been notified by the union that their members will undertake industrial action during the dates of the upcoming local government election, we have put in place our contingency arrangements to ensure it continues to run as planned in May.”

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