COUNCIL house repairs could be disrupted for five days as angry workers prepare to strike next week.

GMB union members in Brighton and Hove City Council’s housing repairs team are set to down tools for five days, starting on Monday.

Brighton branch secretary Mark Turner claimed the union’s patience “has finally run out” after five months of pay negotiations with the council.

The dispute centres around housing maintenance workers transferring from the payroll of ex-contractor Mears to the city council’s wage book.

The council brought its housing repairs service in-house after its contract with Mears expired on April 1.

A council spokesman claimed its latest offer to the union would ensure transferred staff were paid “fairly” compared with existing council staff.

This means the “vast majority” of staff who choose to transfer to its payroll will receive a “significant pay increase” as well as full sick pay and annual leave, the council claimed.

The Argus: Housing repair workers have been moved in-house from contractor MearsHousing repair workers have been moved in-house from contractor Mears

But it said “a few” transferring staff who would suffer a pay cut if they transfer to council terms will be able to remain on their current terms if they wish.

Yet Brighton secretary Mr Turner said the council’s latest pay offer was “unacceptable”. “Our members’ patience has finally run out, I’m afraid,” he said.

Union organiser Gary Palmer apologised to Brighton residents for any inconvenience caused by the strike.

But he warned future walkouts are possible if an agreement is not reached.

A city council spokesman said it will not make any workers take a pay cut.

“The council has a strong employer offer to reflect the value we place on our staff and to fairly reward them for the demanding jobs they do serving the city,” the spokesman said.

The Argus: GMB organiser Gary Palmer said future strikes are possibleGMB organiser Gary Palmer said future strikes are possible

“We are offering all transferred staff the opportunity to switch from their current contracts to council terms and conditions, which includes full sick pay and annual leave entitlements.

“We are keen to continue discussions to resolve the dispute and progress with harmonisation as soon as possible.

“We feel the offer the council has made is fair, transparent and offers many benefits for colleagues who may want to transfer to council terms.

“It also means that all council staff are paid fairly and equally and we are not entering into an agreement that might create unfair pay for any one group of staff.

“If industrial action does take place, we will try to minimise any disruption and residents should report any repairs in the usual way.”