Unison ready for strike ballot after pay offer rejected
pay offer, which proposed an increase of 1% for most members of staff, with the lowest paid receiving slightly more and the highest paid receiving no increase.
High-performing staff would also receive a nonconsolidated 1% increase for the 2017/18 financial year.
Mr Couchman said: “The government’s own report from the Office of Manpower Economics shows that public sector workers’ pay levels have dropped steadily over the last seven years.
“No-one seriously believes that public sector workers should have yet another year of pay misery. Yet Surrey County Council are not just suggesting a 1% pay cap they want to impose a total cost-of-living pay freeze on their staff.
“After years of below-inflation increases, this is just a slap in the face for loyal, long-standing employees.”
He added he was confident any ballot on industrial action would meet the 50% threshold required to approve strike action.
Mr Couchman said: “We firmly believe that it is in the council’s gift to resolve this dispute with a fair offer.
“Last year, members accepted what was actually a fairly poor offer which we improved through negotiation.
“This year the council has come back with an even worse offer, which is a zero cost-of-living increase for hundreds of staff.”
In 2016, almost all county council employees received pay increases averaging 2.5%.
A Surrey County Council spokesman said: “Despite the severe pressures on our budget the council put together a proposal that included pay rises for staff and consulted the two main unions on these proposals, as one of these unions rejected the offer further discussions will continue.”
The county council has recently drawn criticism over high pay for its senior officers. In September 2017, it was revealed outgoing chief executive David McNulty was paid £230,719 in 2016/17 - an increase of £14,477 on the previous year.
Liberal Democrat councillors also criticised the council for advertising for a “head of strategy” to be paid more than £55,000.
Cllr Hazel Watson, leader of Surrey Liberal Democrats, said: “I am very concerned that the county council is recruiting for such a post in the middle of a financial crisis and when services are being cut and redundancies considered.”
More than 900 people have signed a petition started by Leatherhead resident Gerald Harvard calling on the council to stop paying