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Huntingdonshire District Council is preparing for planned industrial action by some of the council's waste collection crews.

The council was informed this week that members of the UNISON union intend to start industrial action from Monday 21 August to Friday 25 August. This is for all UNISON members employed by the council who work at Eastfield House, which includes some of the council's waste collection crews and other services.

Talks continue to resolve the dispute, but contingency planning is underway to try and limit the impact on residents if it goes ahead.

Though all efforts will be made to limit the impact, industrial action is likely to cause some disruption for residents.

The planned action follows unsuccessful annual pay discussions with UNISON. Council staff have received a 4% pay award for this financial year along with a further £1,000 one-off award to all contracted staff in March.

The council had offered a further payment to be made in December which would result in all contracted staff receiving at least the Real Living Wage in 2023/24. This addressed one of UNISON's core requests, yet it has been rejected.

Fortnightly refuse and recycling collections would be prioritised if industrial action does go ahead, but there is no guarantee that these collections will take place on time. Once contingency arrangements are in place, the Huntingdonshire District Council website will be kept up to date with the latest information about any disruption to services.

Cllr Martin Hassall, Executive Councillor for Corporate and Shared Services, said: "We have been in regular discussions with UNISON, who represent an important but small element of our overall staff base and have made clear our intention and commitment to continuing with these conversations moving forward.

"We are disappointed that they have signalled their intention to take this course of action, but talks are ongoing and we very much hope that industrial action can be avoided or resolved quickly.

"Rising costs and inflation has impacted all of us and the council is not immune to these financial challenges. We have made the commitment to rewarding staff fairly, and offering other benefits, whenever we are able to do so. This led to staff receiving a 4% pay award for this financial year along with a further £1,000 one-off award to all contracted staff in March.

"We must remain in a position to provide vital public services and protect the most vulnerable in our communities. Each percentage increase in staff salary costs the council £250,000 a year, and this year's pay award already requires an additional £5million to fund it over the next five years. Unless financial results are better than forecast, or the longer-term financial landscape changes, further consolidated pay increases this year look to be unaffordable.

"Arrangements will be put in place to ensure that we can maintain our frontline services as best we can on the days affected, but some services will have to be prioritised at the expense of others and we would ask for the public's patience. If there are any changes to services, then we will communicate these via our website and social media."