Payment of bills to Newham council’s suppliers ‘could grind to a snail’s pace’, if a dispute involving finance staff who process the payments is not resolved, Unite, the country’s largest union, warned today (Thursday 11 October).

The seven payables officers have unanimously voted to strike for four days - 26 and 29 October, and 2 and 5 November - in a row over how their jobs are evaluated. All the strikes will start at 00:01.

Unite, which represents the workers, is staging a lobby outside the council’s headquarters at Dockside, 1000 Dockside Rd, E16 2QU on Monday (15 October) from 08.30 to 10.30 in support of the campaign.

Unite warned that there could be delays in paying suppliers to the council that serves more than 300,000 residents in east London.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “Newham council has failed to treat the workers with fairness, decency and respect. The council and Unite have an agreed process by which jobs are evaluated for pay purposes.

“This works if both sides play fair – unfortunately, the council bosses have decided not to play fair. The union correctly pointed out a clear error in how the ‘payables officer’ job had been evaluated which should have led to an increased score and eventually more pay for our members.

“While the council accepted this error – it then took the opportunity to change its mind about other areas of the evaluation. This action by the council means that workers don’t get the pay they deserve.

“Our members have four days of strike action planned and this could mean that suppliers of goods and services to the council won’t be paid on time – the process will grind to a snail’s pace.

“We believe this will be the first strike action to take place at the council for about 20 years.

“We are calling for the council to do the right thing and revert to the agreed process for this particular job evaluation.

“Unite is sending out a wider message as we strongly believe that this action is not just about the payables officers.

“If the council gets away with not paying this group of staff what they are rightly owed, council management will feel able to get away with it with other sections of the workforce - that’s why this dispute is so important.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on: 020 3371 2065

  • Unite represents workers in Britain and Ireland with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.