COUNCIL workers have called off the need for a strike after receiving an almost £2,000 wage increase.

Colchester Council and Colchester Borough Homes staff have accepted a pay increase after rejecting the council’s previous offer.

A previous one-off lump sum of £1,000 was offered and rejected but workers have accepted a rise of £1,925 last Friday after a finance meeting was held on December 7.

If the strike had gone ahead, it would have caused disruption to waste collections across the city.

Gazette: Job - Phil Gooch collects waste in ColchesterJob - Phil Gooch collects waste in Colchester (Image: Newsquest)

It would have also affected housing maintenance work, crematoriums, and other services.

Sam Older a regional organiser for Unison which represents Colchester Council employees, said: “It’s disappointing it took the threat of strike action for Colchester Council to accept staff deserve to be paid fairly.

“Council leaders have been claiming that a fair pay rise for staff will mean cuts to front-line services.

"But despite this improved deal, the council’s workers still earn less than colleagues at many other authorities.

“These staff still need to pay their bills and feed their families.

"They aren’t a cash cow to make up for funding shortfalls from central government.

Gazette: Rubbish - bin bags waiting to be collectedRubbish - bin bags waiting to be collected (Image: PA)
“Colchester Council leaders should support Unison in campaigning for greater local government funding rather than complain that they can’t hold wages down as much as they’d like.”

This has been part of an ongoing row that dates back to last year when the council refused to pay its workers the nationally agreed local government pay rise of £1,925.

Many other authorities had already committed to this pay increase and according to Unison, the pay for Colchester’s workers lagged when compared with “bin lorry drivers in Chelmsford on around £2,500 more”.

Colchester Council’s chief executive Pam Donnelly said that the authority’s budget is facing “unprecedented pressure” due the cost-of-living-crisis, energy costs, and following on from the coronavirus pandemic.

Gazette: Staff - Colchester council chief executive Pam DonnellyStaff - Colchester council chief executive Pam Donnelly (Image: Public)

She also previously stated that the council has a “fixed” amount of money to spend on services each year.

The chief executive noted that any increase in cost to fund pay would mean the council has less money to spend “on essential services for our residents”.