A week’s strike action starts today as workers from Brighton’s refuse, recycling and street cleaning service react against pay cuts from the council - the only one in the UK led by the Green Party.
A march and rally has also been organised for tomorrow by members of the union GMB, who are employed by Brighton and Hove City Council.
GMB members from the street cleaning service have had three years of pay frozen by the council, which is a cut of up to £4,000 per head from some of the council’s lowest paid employees, says the GMB.
Problems began in January when the council’s Green party leader, Jason Kitcat, allowed its chief executive, Penny Thompson, to negotiate and implement a revised pay and allowances package without any recourse to councillors.
A final offer was made in April, which GMB members rejected.
MRW reported that the members then embarked on a ballot for strike action. They voted 95.6% in favour of taking industrial action against the cuts.
Over 1,500 people also signed a GMB petition against the cuts.
Charles Harrity, GMB senior organiser for Brighton & Hove City Council said: “At a meeting of Brighton’s Policy and Resources Committee in January, Green and Conservative councillors forced through a measure which authorised council officers to implement a ‘modernised pay and conditions package’. Labour councillors voted against the proposals.
“Since then council officers have been in negotiations over the proposals with the recognised trade unions. The Council made what they described as a ‘final offer’ which still included pay cuts of up to £95 a week for some of the lowest paid staff.”
Responding in an open letter to residents, Thompson said: “I would like to apologise and say how disappointed I am that we are now facing formal strike action. While some staff will gain from our proposals, unfortunately some will see a reduction in their allowances, so we have offered compensation in these cases.”
Paul Kenny, GMB general secretary will lead the march today.