Thousands of council tenants in Aberdeen are facing days of disruption next month after housing officers voted to go on strike.
Last month we revealed the trade union Unite was to hold a ballot of its members after a dispute arose between Aberdeen City Council and its staff.
Housing officers claim they are under “mounting pressure” to manage an increased workload as a result of a rise in housing arrears and homelessness in the city.
Following the ballot, which had a turnout of 65% and ran from May 10 until Monday, Unite has revealed 79% of those who voted were in favour of strike action.
Now it has been confirmed around 40 members of staff will walk out next month, with exact dates still to be confirmed.
What does this mean?
The result of the ballot means dozens of housing and support officers will go on strike in June.
The staff – whose job is primarily to house council tenants based on their needs, with a focus on homelessness prevention – previously warned they had reached “breaking point” because of an increase in their workload.
Unite claims the situation has been caused by a rise in housing arrears, which it says is directly related to the “massive economic disruption” caused by Covid-19.
Its members voting to strike means some housing services may need to be scaled back at times when industrial action is ongoing.
What does Unite say?
Unite industrial officer John Boland said the union’s members were angry at a “lack of support” from senior council officials, and said they are “determined to make a stand”.
Officials at the union believe they have the public’s support.
“Unite’s members in the housing services department in Aberdeen City Council have voted to take strike action by a huge margin,” Mr Boland said.
“The ballot result reflects the depressing reality that our members have taken on a massive increase in their workload while investment in the service has been continuously cut.
“We believe the public will support our members because ultimately the public and those most in need are being given a poorer service due to these cuts.
“Unite believes the workers and the people of Aberdeen deserve better.”
What does Aberdeen City Council say?
The local authority outlined its dismay at the outcome of the ballot, and claimed only a “small proportion” of its staff had voted for strike action.
A spokesman said the council is willing to reopen talks with the union over the dispute in a bid to avoid the walkout.
“It is very disappointing that members of Unite the Union have narrowly voted for strike action in the midst of a consultation to improve services,” the spokesman said.
“Those voting for action represent a small proportion of our housing staff, the majority having engaged positively on proposals to invest in staff, reduce the average tenancy workload per officer, and make it easier for residents to access support.
“We hope Unite the Union choose to resume dialogue in the interests of transforming services for everyone.
“In the meantime, we will continue to meet the needs of all our housing customers.”