A strike ballot has been called by binmen and street cleaners in Brighton and Hove even though they ended their unofficial walkout this morning (Friday 10 May).
More than 200 staff took part in a two-day unofficial strike but the GMB union has started the process of calling for formal industrial action.
Thousands of people have rubbish piling up outside their homes, with the returning staff now working to rule.
Brighton and Hove City Council negotiating staff will resume talks with union officials next week in the hope of heading off further action.
The talks are about attempts by the council to adjust pay and allowances which will mean a cut in earnings for some staff.
The changes are intended to ensure that the council complies with equality laws and legal rulings.
But GMB organiser Mark Turner said: “We’re talking about people who will not be able to pay their mortgage or rent.”
He said that some staff would be as much as £4,000 a year worse off.
Council leader Jason Kitcat said that very few people would lose such a large sum. Most people would be better off under the changes, he said, but a number of people would face a cut of about £25 a week.
He said that he was aware what a big sum this was to those on lower wages and they were being offered compensation, adding: “Nothing’s being imposed.”
The dispute erupted when the council started a 90-day consultation with staff about the changes.
The GMB said: “The decision to ballot follows months of fruitless negotiation with council officers following a decision by the Green Party leader of the council, Jason Kitcat, to delegate responsibility for implementing the cuts to council officers.
“Official notice of the ballot will be received by the council next week and then an independent ballot will be undertaken by the Electoral Reform Society in the following weeks.
“If members vote in support of action then there could be a stoppage as early as next month.
GMB senior organiser Charles Harrity said: “GMB members at City Clean have said enough is enough.
“They cannot and will not accept these vicious cuts to their take-home pay.
“It is now abundantly clear that the Green Party leader of the council, Jason Kitcat, is in an untenable position and that he has brought his party into disrepute.
“Thousands of people across the country have signed a petition against the cuts, including many Green Party members who say they are disgusted by Councillor Kitcat’s actions.
“They have been joined by the Green Party’s only MP, Caroline Lucas, who says she will actively campaign against any cuts, and Green Party councillors, who are now calling for Kitcat to resign.
“While GMB does not take strike action lightly we now have no faith in Councillor Kitcat or his proposals.
“The workforce at City Clean are well used to such attacks and I have no doubt both that they will vote in favour of action and that they will be prepared to take it.”
The workers who walked out and their supporters have posted a video on YouTube of their protest outside Brighton Town Hall yesterday (Thursday 9 May).
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