Unions win £4k wage rise in Sandwell

Union members at Sandwell Council have claimed victory after securing a substantial wage rise following a dispute over job grading.

The 34 customer service assistants – members of UNISON and Unite – were due to begin industrial action this week in a row over a job evaluation process that failed to take into account the work the staff undertook. But the industrial action was called off after members accepted a new offer from the council.

The workers have now been re-graded, as of 1 May, meaning that those earning between £19,000 to £20,000 a year will eventually see their pay increase by £4,000 per annum, with two days additional leave.

All the involved members of both UNISON and Unite, working across Sandwell’s local neighbourhood offices, had voted to begin a work to rule from May 10, which would have seen them refuse to take calls or pass along information and handle inquiries such as evictions.

Tony Barnsley, branch secretary of Sandwell General UNISON branch, said that the staff’s 100% vote for action meant the branch could negotiate from a very strong position. “We congratulate our members for their unified show of strength.”

In a joint statement, UNISON regional officer Tracy Wood and Brian Rickers from Unite said: “The offer of better pay from 1 May 2019 means that there will no longer be any need for the planned industrial action. We welcome the decision of Sandwell Council to bring this matter to a conclusion.”

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