Merton council staff may strike after proposed pay rise is refused

By Tara O’Connor, Local Democracy Reporter

Council workers in Merton could strike as unions reject a 1.75 per cent pay increase offer by the authority.

Unions are calling on local councils to rethink the proposed pay rise.

At a cabinet meeting on October 11, Caroline Holland, director of corporate services, said: “The pay award of 1.75 has been rejected by the unions so we are now waiting to hear whether they will ballot staff for strike action.”

After the meeting Helen O’Connor from GMB Southern said the 1.75 per cent offer could push Merton Council employees into poverty.

She said: “Clearly it is not sufficient, inflation is running out of control at the moment

“Inflation is around 4.9 per cent at the moment, so it’s way below inflation.

“What we would want as a trade union is for members to get an offer that is in line with inflation because otherwise people are going to be driven into poverty.”

The unions in the area are now expected to now go back to the council to discuss the pay rise.

But if an agreement isn’t made union members will be asked whether they want to take strike action.

Councillor Tobin Byers, cabinet member for finance said the council is facing a “broadly manageable” funding gap of £1.175m in 2022/23 rising to an “extremely challenging gap” of £17m 2023/24.

At the meeting, the cabinet also agreed to the draft business plan for 2022-26.

The council’s final budget for next year will be set in March, 2022.

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