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Staff could strike over KCC pay offer - exclusive

The Kent branch of Unison says there is widepread resentment at County Hall
The Kent branch of Unison says there is widepread resentment at County Hall

Unions representing county council staff are poised to ballot for strike action in protest over a one per cent pay award.

The move, likely to be agreed later this week, comes after the pay award was comprehensively rejected by members of the Kent branch of Unison.

David Lloyd, the Kent Unison branch secretary, said the pay offer had sparked widespread resentment among County Hall employees and many had expresed disquiet about the large number of senior officers on six-figure salaries.

Union members were consulted over Christmas about the pay proposal and whether they would support industrial action. There were about 2,000 responses and of those, just 100 supported the pay award.

The rest all backed industrial action and there was strong support for strikes.

Mr Lloyd said: "That is a very high response for an indicative ballot. A lot of the people who are going to suffer most are those employees who are our lowest paid but are doing vital work for the organisation."

There was particular anger among school support staff, who were working alongside teaching staff due to receive a pay award of nearly 2.5 per cent, he added.

"We would like KCC to look at how much they are spending on high salaries and reconsider its figures. There are a lot of people earning more than £100,000."

Any action could start in March and if strikes are supported, it could bring disruption to many services. Negotiations are continuing over the pay settlement.

In a message to staff about the pay offer, county council chief executive Peter Gilroy said: "In these unprecedented times, with unemployment rising it is a time for pay restraint. If pay were not to be controlled it is inevitable consequences would include redundancies."

Conservative KCC leader Paul Carter said: "In times of economic recession, we have to be responsible. One per cent is appropriate and the 30,000 staff will understand the climate we are in."

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