Government surveyors have begun the first day of a month long industrial action in protest over last year’s pay award with the threat of further action looming if 2008 pay negotiations unravel.
Last week around 85% of the 900 surveyors and senior managers working in 85 Valuation Office Agency (VOA) across England, Scotland and Wales voted for action in a move that could affect survey and valuation work across the country.
They argue that the 1.25% increase amounted to a substantial real-term cut in pay and was below inflation and lagged behind the private sector and other civil service employees.
From today there will be a series of ‘non-co-operative’ actions including overtime ban, no out-of-hours coverage and two days where staff will only work their core hours of 10 am to 1 pm.
John Plant, Prospect’s secretary for the surveyors, said: ‘The industrial action will go on as planned…It is about putting pressure on VOA management and the Treasury to recognize the problems. We are having ongoing discussions with the VOA management and Treasury Secretary Jane Kennedy.’
He said it would review the situation following the end of the action at the end of March. However, he said the impasse could be a drawn out for some time as upcoming 2008 pay negotiations, which will begin towards the end of this month could be contentious as ‘we will be seeking a significantly better increase’.
Plant said the action could have an impact ‘on the wider property market’ particularly for rating appeals and good quality valuations but the pay situation had deteriorated to such an extent that industrial action was essential.
‘It will cause disruption across the VOA network,’ said Plant. ‘But we cannot allow the pay to fall so far below the market.’