Wiltshire Council must ditch plans to slash keyworker pay by 20% or face industrial action - GMB
Social workers would lose around £7,000 per year, and traffic wardens would lose about £2,000 per year, says GMB Union.
GMB Union has warned Wiltshire Council it must ditch plans to slash key worker pay by 20 per cent or face industrial action.
Under the local authority’s plans staff in highways and leisure centres, care workers, social workers and traffic wardens face a pay cut of between 10 and 20 per cent.
Social workers would lose around £7,000 per year, and traffic wardens would lose about £2,000 per year.
In total, 97 per cent of GMB members voted to reject the cuts – the ballot also showed they would support industrial action if required.
Wiltshire Council has failed to properly consult staff and unions over the proposed changes to terms and conditions. GMB has proposed face to face talks through ACAS to seek a resolution and avoid escalation, but the council has refused.
GMB has today written to elected councillors  asking them to intervene with the council to avoid the possibility of industrial action.
Keith Roberts, GMB Regional Organiser, said:
"GMB has proposed talks to resolve differences with the council, but they have point blank refused to talk to us.
“A confrontation is not in the interests of the council, staff, or residents - but if that is the path they want to push us down, we will reluctantly have to take it.
“GMB members are incensed. For social workers the council’s proposal would have led to a 20 per cent reduction in pay, a loss of £7.000 per year.
“Traffic wardens and specialist care staff face a10 per cent cut.
“The council has paused these cuts but not taken them off the table.
“The uncertainty caused by this has caused a crisis of confidence in staff and many staff have already left or are looking for other jobs.
"Our members are furious that the chief executive sent out an email to all staff saying there was no cut in salaries, and that GMB has been blocked from meeting staff to explain the true facts
"GMB is now talking to our members about what our next steps are – up to and including strike action.”
Media enquiries: GMB Press Office on 07958 156846 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors:
 Letter sent to all elected Wiltshire Councillors from GMB on 15th March 2022
AVOIDING AN INDUSTRIAL DISPUTE
Dear [insert councillors name]
I am writing to you seeking your assistance as a councillor in avoiding a potential industrial dispute involving GMB members working for Wiltshire Council. GMB is one of three trade unions recognised by Wiltshire Council, and we have members across most departments but in particular we are the largest union for school support staff, and for traffic wardens and social workers.
Recently, GMB members voted 97% to reject a proposed pay cut for staff working unsocial hours payments. This vote also included an indicative ballot that they would, if necessary, support industrial action.
For social workers the council’s proposal would have led to a 20% reduction in pay, a loss of £7000 per year, and for traffic wardens this would have been a 10% pay cut. The unsocial hours payment is expressed in their contracts as a multiplier to their basic pay. GMB has also been impeded from consulting staff affected by these changes, contrary to the Recognition Agreement that we signed with Wiltshire Council in March 2018.
For now, the pay cut for frontline workers has been paused, but Wiltshire Council have not taken it off the table. The uncertainty caused by this has caused a crisis of confidence in staff, and many staff have already left, or are looking for other jobs. GMB has proposed to Wiltshire Council that we hold face to face talks, facilitated by ACAS, to resolve our disagreement about consultations. This was proposed by GMB in order to resolve our differences without leading to industrial action.
Unfortunately, the response of Wiltshire Council has been to refuse talks with ACAS, and they have indicated that there is in fact no mechanism, other than GMB taking strike action, where our differences can be resolved.
GMB is frankly surprised by the aggressive stance of Wiltshire Council that they are not prepared to seek a resolution through talking, and GMB are therefore now consulting our members about our next steps.
GMB believe that it is not in the best interests of either Wiltshire residents, nor Wiltshire Council staff for there to be industrial action, if it can possibly be avoided. We have proposed a mechanism – via ACAS talks – for our differences to be resolved, and we have been rejected.
If you agree that it would be better to seek an alternative to industrial action, it would be helpful if you could ask Wiltshire Council to agree to formal talks via ACAS.
 ACAS is the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (www.acas.org.uk) which can facilitate talks between employers and trade unions to seek a negotiated resolution to disputes. Wiltshire Council has refused to meet with GMB through ACAS.
 Statement to all staff from Terence Herbert, Chief Executive (emphasis added)
Like many of you, I was concerned to see a press report concerning our Trade Union proposal, which indicated council staff would be receiving a ‘pay cut’. To confirm, our proposal to is to temporarily freeze increments for some staff, and review extended service delivery policies. This is to ensure policies are fit for purpose in the current climate, and inline with similar organisations. The proposed changes are to some allowances and not to salaries, and as previously outlined the annual pay award will continue to apply. Once agreement has been reached on the 2021 pay award the increase will be backdated to 1 April 2021 for a majority”
GMBs view is that the statement from Terence Herbert is untrue. For the staff qualified to receive the unsocial hours uplift is expressed in the staff contracts because for the staff qualified to receive an unsocial hours payment, this extra money is actually in their contract, as an uplift to their basic salary.
 Although Mr Herbert says this is not a pay cut, it is exactly a pay cut, and a pay cut for some staff of up to 20%. We suspect that Mr Herbert may have been sold a pup and given inaccurate information from his advisors.
From £ xxxxx to £ yyyyy per annum, plus zz % unsocial hours plussage”
The unsocial hours plus sage is therefore not an allowance, it is part of the contractual basic salary for staff in roles involving anti-social hours.
 The council first proposed this to the unions in December, and our members rejected the proposal with a 97% vote. GMB members would not accept a penny off their pay. The council has now paused the proposal, but they haven’t taken the pay cut off the table, and have indicated that they are just repackaging the pay cut.