Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Southampton City Council Unite members vote to strike

Southampton council staff protest
Image caption The council has said a further 400 jobs could be lost unless all staff earning over £17,500 take a pay cut

Workers in the Unite union at Southampton City Council have voted to strike to try to stop proposed pay cuts of up to 5.5%.

The pay cuts are designed to save jobs but the council has said it may still have to make further redundancies.

Unite said 51% of its workers had voted for action. In a ballot last week, 56% of Unison members also voted in favour.

The Conservative-run council has said the alternative is to lose another 400 staff on top of 285 losses.

The strike would affect refuse collections, street cleaning, care services and parking services, Unite said.

In February, councillors finalised £25m budget cuts and said all workers earning more than £17,500, which is 65% of staff, would have their pay cut.

'Blackmailing staff'

Staff earning £17,500 to £22,000 will have their pay cut by 2%, those in the £22,000 to £35,000 bracket will have pay cut by 4.5%, salaries of £35,000 to £65,000 will be slashed by 5% and those earning more than £65,000 face a 5.5% cut.

The council, which employs about 6,600 staff, has been accused by unions of "blackmailing" staff into accepting the pay cuts or seeing the extra job losses.

Leader of the Conservative-run council, Royston Smith, has previously said of proposed strike action: "I understand that many people are unhappy about the proposals; however, the alternative is to lose another 400 staff and stop providing the services our residents tell us they value."

Unite said it had balloted 692 members working for the council and they voted 51% in favour of strike action and 85% in favour of industrial action short of strike action. The turn-out was 42%.

A spokesperson said: "Unite will be liaising with Unison about the timing of industrial action which will hit refuse collections, street cleaning, care services and parking services.

"A decision will be taken within the next week on the timing for action."

In March, members of the council's GMB Union voted nine-to-one against the planned cuts and may now be balloted on strike action.

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