Branch secretary David Buss said 98% of staff affected by the award had opposed it in a questionnaire. 'It's not just over the pay award. That was the last straw for a lot of people. There's been a lot of frustration building up over the past few years over workload and treatment of staff. This was a kick in the teeth.'
Mr Buss said the council's own 'talkback' survey last summer found around one in six members of staff had suffered bullying.
Kent deputy leader Keith Ferrin said: 'We accept the pay award is very low. We had to choose between a low pay award and cutting services. We understand their decision to ballot, but if they strike very few of our staff will go on strike. It can't have any effect because there's simply no money to pay them more.
He admitted the talkback survey 'wasn't very good'. But he stressed it went out to 10% of the payroll and said: 'What you tend to get back from all surveys like that are people who are unhappy.'
South East Employers deputy director Steve Vale said: 'Over the past five or six years there have been other instances where an authority has had particular financial pressures and it's paid a very low increase or actually had pay frozen. Normally where that's happened subsequent pay increases are more generous to reflect the previous settlement.'
The pay award affects around 10,000 white-collar and manual workers. Unison members will vote in early May on a series of six one-day strikes.
Independent pay settlements in the south-east April 2000
Lowest1.1% South Oxfordshire DC
Highest 4.1% Mole Valley DC