Action will bring highways agency to a halt

Staff in the Highways Agency will this week start a campaign of industrial action following a dispute over the organisation’s 2005 pay offer.

From today, members of Prospect and the Public and Commercial Services unions will launch a “work-to-contract” campaign for up to 10 weeks.

The action will progressively slow down and disrupt the agency’s work on planning and implementing new road schemes, billing and meetings with contractors, union leaders claimed.

More than 1,500 members of both unions voted for action in a ballot just before Christmas. They were rejecting a pay offer for 2005 which, the unions say, would mean a pay cut for the most experienced staff.

The increase – worth 0.5% for 220 staff on the maximum of their scales – was imposed by management late last year. For the remaining staff it is worth an average 3.48%.

Prospect negotiator John Higgins said: “The action is designed to persuade management to get back into serious pay talks for 2006. We share many common objectives but there must be provision for a sensible increase for the longest-serving staff.

“It is a measure of the anger felt by members that 85% of those involved are not taking action on their own behalf, but to defend the interests of their colleagues who have been subject to such unwarranted discrimination.”

Staff taking action include civil engineers, bridge engineers, environmentalists, traffic management officers and workers employed in finance, procurement and administration.

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