Nearly 1,000 Prospect members in the government agency are to vote on whether they are prepared to strike or take industrial action short of a strike at OS sites in Southampton, London and most other major UK cities.
OS members of Prospect’s sister union, the Public and Commercial Services union are also being balloted on industrial action, the first in Ordnance Survey’s 200-year history. The result is due on June 9.
The move comes against a background of dissatisfaction over a number of pay issues felt by staff over several years. In particular, the substantial amount of members who have endured a succession of below inflation pay increases, often non-consolidated, and the lack of a coherent mechanism for new staff to progress to the ‘rate for the job’.
A joint management and union pay review was established in 2003 with the aim of identifying and implementing a fair and equitable pay system. However in November OS management presented their ‘final offer’ to union negotiators.
The total headline value of the offer (3.8% in year one, 3.6% in year two) still meant large numbers of staff receiving consolidated increases worth less than inflation or making little or no progress on progression. It therefore failed to deliver the key recommendations of the review.
The offer was rejected in a ballot of staff – fewer than 12% of union members voted to accept in an 80% ballot turnout.
Despite continued attempts by the unions to return to the negotiating table, OS have made no improvement to their offer beyond cosmetic repackaging of the same headline figure.
Ben Middleton, Prospect negotiator, said: "OS are highly successful and are investing huge sums of money developing new systems. It is high time they invested in the skilled and experienced staff expected to deliver and operate those systems, who enable OS to retain its prestige status as a world-class provider of geographic information."
John Barneveld, Prospect Branch Secretary, said: "Members are angered by the dismissive behaviour of the directors, whose own pay continues to comfortably outstrip inflation year after year.
"Negotiators from both sides have spent hours examining ways to make a deal but it seems clear that senior management had no serious intention to reach agreement."