Council workers at Reigate and Banstead Council have voted in favour of strike action over pay negotiations with the council's leadership.

Workers affiliated with the GMB services union voted in favour of the walkout after the local authority's offer of a 1.3 per cent pay "award" was previously rejected by members during negotiations.

GMB said the council did not move on this offer after it was tabled and as such reached an impasse with the union that looks set to result in strike action.

"Our members within the Council are extremely disappointed to see such a poor pay offer," GMB Regional Organiser Paul Grafton said.

"Instead the Council appears to wish to race to the bottom with pay, despite virtually all staff working behind the scenes during the pandemic, many of them placing themselves at risk continually," he added.

Grafton went on to point out that the pay increase was below possible inflation of up to 2.8 per cent for the final quarter of 2021, suggesting that the offer as such amounted to an insult to council employees with the union.

"Neither the Leader of the Council nor senior management could seemingly be bothered to engage in trying to resolve the dispute - effectively this is the Council Leaders sticking two fingers up to their staff whilst they struggle to pay their bills when the long-term statistics are showing an expected inflation hike of up to 2.8 per cent in quarter 4 of this year according to the Treasury," Grafton said.

Reigate and Banstead Council however defended their position.

Council Leader Cllr Mark Brunt said that the offer had been accepted by "most" council staff members, including those represented by another trade union, UNISON.

"We are disappointed that GMB members - a small proportion of the Council’s staff – have rejected the 1.3% pay award.

"We stand by the award which, as well as being accepted by our major recognised Union – UNISON, we feel recognises the hard work and dedication of our staff, while also reflecting the financial challenges we face as a council, and the broader national picture," he said.

"This award is in addition to a one-off payment we made to all employees in August last year as a thank you for their incredible commitment and efforts.

"We are incredibly proud of our dedicated key workers, who have responded valiantly to a range of challenges throughout this unprecedented year to keep our essential services running and provide support to our communities and local businesses.

"We would challenge the GMB’s statement that we are ‘racing to the bottom’ in terms of an award.

"We face unprecedented times as a Council but stand by how important our staff and their efforts are, hence why we have committed to this award despite many other authorities freezing pay and making cuts," Cllr Brunt added.

There are no clear dates set for the strike as yet and, despite suggestions to the contrary, both GMB and the council have expressed a desire to thrash out an agreement before the walkout takes place.