Agenda item

Chief Executive's use of urgency powers to settle the waste dispute

To consider a report from the Chief Executive, a copy is attached as Item 5.


Before the Committee was a report by the Chief executive, copies of which had been circulated to all Members and a copy of which is attached to the signed copy of these minutes as Item 5.


The Committee was informed that a significant proportion of staff in the Waste and Cleansing team started industrial action on the 14th March 2022. Following negotiation with both the GMB and Unison, both sides reached agreement on the 8th April 2022 allowing the strike to come to an end.

The resulting settlement had significant unbudgeted cost implications for the Councils. Under the Council’s financial regulations, officers were not allowed to enter into agreements with unbudgeted financial consequences, consequently the Chief Executive approved the use of the Council’s reserves to fund the costs associated with the strike and associated new pay arrangements using urgency powers as set out in the constitution.


A Member asked a question regarding the financial risks posed to residents following the settlement. Officers advised that the risks were primarily related to inflation on the Council’s budgets which was showing up in several different places. The Council was expecting pay awards of at least 4%, provision had been made in the budget for a 5% increase. Until the pay settlement was agreed, the Council wouldn’t have certainty on this figure. In addition, inflation was also affecting energy costs. Since the budget was set, the war in Ukraine had had a significant impact on the energy markets. Diesel costs were expected to rise by 50%, electricity costs were expected to rise by 50% and the cost of gas was expected to rise by 300%. At this early stage in the financial year, officers were expecting cost pressures in Worthing of £750k excluding the cost of the strike action. As a result, a recommended programme of action would be proposed to the Council to help bring the budget back in line  by the end of the financial year. This would form the basis of a report to the Committee in July 2022. 


As a supplementary question, the Member asked how the withdrawal of the sum of £371k would affect the percentage of net revenue expenditure, which ideally should be held between 6 and 10%. Would the Council still achieve this? Officers advised that it would be recommended that the sum be taken from the capacity issues reserve, rather than the working balance, to preserve the working balance to manage the in year risks that the Council was experiencing. Therefore, the working balance would be at the upper limit and was currently around 10%.  


A Member highlighted that reserves could only be replaced from one source, the Council taxpayer. Therefore, he sought clarification as to how many Worthing Labour Councillors had been supported by the GMB? Councillor Walker agreed to provide a written response to the question following the meeting.


Members welcomed the report and thanked officers for their work to resolve this matter. The recommendation in the report was proposed by Councillor Vicki Wells, seconded by Councillor Angus Dunn and unanimously supported.  




The Joint Strategic Committee noted the content of the report and endorsed the urgent decision made by the Chief Executive to settle the industrial action.


Call In:


The call-in deadline for the decision will be 5.00pm on the 17th June 2022.

Supporting documents: