John Perry, co-ordinator of Battersea and Wandsworth TUC, said the strike ballot resulted in a four to one vote for industrial action against the proposals, which were unveiled two months ago (LGC, 24 September).
The council emphasised that the ballot drew a yes vote from only around 10% of the workforce. Deputy leader Maurice Heaster said: 'The unions have rushed to call for strike action even before we have had the chance to agree the detail.'
Views on the progress of negotiations on detail differed starkly. A council spokesman said the postponement of a follow-up report to councillors was the result of good progress in negotiations.
The spokesman said that leader Eddie Lister had given an assurance that such a case would be exempted from the arrangements. Assistant directors would be free to grant exemptions and staff would be able to appeal to directors.
Mr Perry said such guarantees were not in the proposals under discussion and resulted from the union publicity. The GMB is to ballot members on a rolling programme of industrial action. GMB members have been advised to respect the Unison picket line.