HGV Driver dispute draws closer to formal strike action

In September 2021, in response to the HGV driver shortage, Barnet Council agreed to pay a Recruitment and Retention Payment (RRP) as per the Council Policy for HGV drivers. Each year RRP should be reviewed.

In negotiations with the Council, Barnet UNISON requested an increase in the retention payment on the grounds that there is still an HGV driver recruitment issue but that the Cost-of-Living Crisis is ongoing e.g.

  • In the last year, gas prices rose by 132%, electricity by 66%, mortgage interest payments by 26%, petrol by 22%.
  • 25% has been lost from the value of their pay since 2010.
  • As household costs continue to rise, the value of staff pay keeps falling – with 6% lost from the value of local government pay in 2022 alone.

The negotiations at a local level broke down and the matter was escalated to a meeting with the Chief Executive.

In advance of the meeting, Barnet UNISON undertook an informal consultation of our members. 97% of members voted that they would take strike action if the offer was not increased.

In a meeting with the Chief Executive on 27 February 2023, Barnet UNISON submitted our claim and informed the meeting of the outcome of our consultation.

Unfortunately, the negotiations failed to resolve this dispute and Barnet UNISON formally registered a Trades Dispute.

β€œIt’s a shame. The employer has been made aware for some time of the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on the workforce in the depot. The use of RRP has been used in Family Services for nearly six years and has recently been increased to 25% on top of another payment entitled flexible benefits which provides another 17% on top for those workers. Our members are aware of these payments and feel that the Council treats manual workers unfairly compared to office workers and I think they have a point. I have asked the Council to reconsider their position. In the meantime, I will be shortly referring to our UNISON National Industrial Relations Committee for permission to carry out a formal strike ballot if there is not counter offer from the Council.” (John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON.)