Union members have warned strike action is possible if Medway Council implements a controversial performance-related pay scheme for employees.
Medway’s GMB branch secretary Mike Ongley branded consultation on the council’s planned Pay and Grade scheme “a sham”, and said anger among council staff was mounting.
GMB, Unison and Unite have lodged an official complaint to the council and two meetings held at Gun Wharf on Tuesday were attended by a total of 100 staff members.
Mr Ongley was collecting signatures from staff opposing the plans on Thursday morning and further discussion was due to take place at an Employment Matters meeting on Thursday night.
Mike Ongley, Medway branch secretary for the GMB Union
“The attitude is it’s our way or the highway,” he said.
“The consultation has been a sham from the start.
“They’re going to lose money and are not being consulted. There has to be an appeal process.
“What they’re going to do is dismiss people on certain terms and conditions and pay, and reemploy them again on lesser conditions and pay.”
He accused the council of wasting money on ineffectual restructuring processes and said many staff members had undertaken more responsibilities than were listed in their original job descriptions.
Strike action was possible he said but was “the last string to our bow”.
Around 2,000 workers are affected and if a strike is called disrupted services would include social services, libraries, community safety and payroll staff.
Contracted services such as rubbish collection would not be affected.
If necessary the unions would hold an “indicative vote” before holding a full strike ballot.
Under the new scheme, pay grade ranges would have a lower and upper limit and workers could progress within their grade range if they achieve objectives and targets, demonstrate “competencies” or demonstrate “exceptional wider contribution to the organisation”.
Workers would be assessed using four levels: Excellent; Performance to the required standard; Performance improvement required; Unsatisfactory performance.
Medway Council said they could not comment on Union claims until after Thursday night's meeting.