Sandwell council staff celebrate victory in grading dispute

Members in UNISON and Unite had voted 100% to take industrial action before council regraded them

UNISON members at Sandwell council have claimed victory after securing a substantial wage rise following a dispute over job grading.

The 20 customer service assistants, together with 14 colleagues in Unite, were due to begin industrial action next week in a row over a job evaluation process that failed to take into account the work the staff undertook.

But the industrial action was called off on 1 May, after members accepted a new offer from the council.

The workers have now been regraded, as of 1 May, meaning that those earning between £19,000 to £20,000 a year will eventually see their pay increase by £4,000 per annum, with two days additional leave.

All the involved members of both UNISON and Unite, working across Sandwell’s local neighbourhood offices, had voted to begin a work to rule from 10 May, which would have seen them refuse to take calls or pass along information and handle inquiries such as evictions.

Tony Barnsley, branch secretary of Sandwell General UNISON branch, said that the 100% vote for action by both unions’ members meant they could negotiate from a very strong position. “We congratulate our members for their unified show of strength.”

In a joint statement, UNISON regional officer Tracy Wood and Brian Rickers from Unite said: “The offer of better pay from 1 May 2019 means that there will no longer be any need for the planned industrial action. We welcome the decision of Sandwell council to bring this matter to a conclusion.”