GMB members at Kier who provide environmental services for North Norfolk District Council have voted to strike in a dispute over pay and claims of harassment and bullying.
Of the workers who voted, 93% backed a strike.
Ivan Mercer, GMB regional organiser, said: “These negotiations have been protracted by the company refusal to offer a reasonable pay increase. Two offers that barely put members above the minimum wage have already been rejected and members are sick of feeling undervalued by the company.
”North Norfolk District Council has reserves available to finance a reasonable rate of pay, but Kier appears unwilling to speak with them about renegotiating the terms of the contract.
”The high turnout and acceptance of industrial strike action is a clear indicator to the company of GMB members’ resolve to achieve a decent rate of pay.”
However, Julian Tranter, managing director of Kier Environmental Services, said: “The North Norfolk refuse collection team pay increases are set by the public sector pay standard known as the National Joint Council (NJC) agreement.
”The GMB, alongside Unite, Unison and other public sector bodies, agreed the 2016/17 NJC increase of 2.4% over two years (1.2% in 2016 and 1.2% in 2017) earlier this year.
”So we were understandably surprised when locally 26 GMB members out of our 106 employees voted to strike and reject the pay increase already negotiated through their union.
“We already pay all of our team at least the living wage, and more than 80% of the team is paid above [that level]. In addition, we have offered a higher increase of between 3.5 and 4.2% as an alternative to the NJC offer if they want to leave the NJC system, to try to respond to local GMB concerns. But the GMB has also rejected this, instead demanding an increase of 20%.
”We have tried to keep a dialogue open but it seems that this minority group wants to pursue strike action. We will continue to pursue resolution, and in the interim will do our upmost to offset any potential impact on service.”
The GMB is to attend ACAS conciliation with Kier on 6 October in the hope of reaching an agreement. If this is not successful, the GMB claims that strike action is likely to start on 31 October.
Earlier this year, Kier refuse staff went on strike over pay in Bath and Somerset.