ANGRY council staff have voted in favour of striking as part of an ongoing row over "sub-par" pay rises... but no industrial action will be taken until new negotiations conclude.

Unison, which represents Colchester Council employees, revealed on Tuesday three-quarters of council staff had voted in favour of industrial action.

Two separate ballots at Colchester Council and Colchester Borough Homes returned votes of roughly 75 per cent in favour of striking, with turnout exceeding the legal threshold.

Staff, including those working for Colchester Borough Homes, had asked for an above-inflation pay rise to make up for years of wages failing to keep up with the rising cost of living.

Unison then launched the strike ballots after months of talks with the authority.

Gazette: Colchester Town Hall in the city centreColchester Town Hall in the city centre (Image: N/A)
Speaking prior to issuing a joint statement with Colchester Council, Unison Eastern regional organiser Sam Older told the Gazette worker had "sent a clear message they won’t put up with another sub-par pay rise."

“Staff have returned a huge vote for industrial action, but nobody wants to have to strike."

The union says any strikes could hit refuse collections, including garden waste which will be charged for from January, leisure facilities like Leisure World, the crematorium, parking enforcement, and housing services.

The council now hopes, however, strike action will not take place and services will not be disrupted, after upping their pay offer.

Gazette: Leisure World in Cowdray Avenue, ColchesterLeisure World in Cowdray Avenue, Colchester (Image: N/A)
Pam Donnelly, Colchester Council's chief executive, and Sam Older, UNISON Eastern regional organiser, have now issued a joint statement addressing the situation.

“Despite extensive negotiations, we were unable to reach an agreement regarding the council's initial pay offer," they said.

"As a result, UNISON balloted its members on potential strike action last week, and members voted in favour of such action.

“Both the council and UNISON recognise the significant financial pressures faced by council staff due to the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

"We are committed to working together to find a solution that is both fair to staff and sustainable for the council.

"In the interest of avoiding any disruption to services for Colchester residents, the council has proposed an updated pay offer to UNISON, in line with the national pay offer of a £1,925 increase to all salary grades (permanent and fixed term), which is currently under consideration.

"While these negotiations are ongoing, no industrial action will take place.”

Colchester Council workers were poised to walk out this January after the council refused to implement the 2022/23 national local government pay deal in full, but action was called off after council bosses agreed to match the rise.