May 22 2013 Latest news:
By Matt Gaw
Thursday, March 7, 2013
ABOUT 15% of workers will see their salary reduced if a single pay line across two west Suffolk councils is introduced.
Union members at Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council will soon be voting on whether to accept the package, which would see a further 23% of staff increase their earnings.
The vote follows a period of negotiation in a bid to reach a collective agreement, which would apply to all staff, not just union members.
The councils are working on sharing services across West Suffolk and, although each council retains its individual, unique identities there is one staffing structure now being created.
Councillors have committed themselves to keeping the same amount of money available in the total ‘pay pot’ and asked the Chief Executive and Unison, the councils’ recognised union, to negotiate a single, shared pay line.
Joint Chief Executive Ian Gallin said: “We have already made large savings from our pay budgets over the past couple of years, including £870,000 a year from senior management. For these negotiations we had a fixed amount of pay available and our discussions were around how to allocate that within the new single staff structure.”
Unison nationally has seen the package and has agreed that it can go to members for a ballot. Members will be receiving a letter with their ballot paper, which is due to start within a few days and take two weeks.
A spokesman from West Suffolk Unison said: “Unison has been in regular negotiations for a number of months with the management regarding the pay line and terms and conditions for staff.
“Members will soon be asked to ballot on a package that ensures members who carry out the same job across both authorities are paid at the same level and with the same terms and conditions.
“The original proposal made to Unison has been considerably improved, particularly to get a better deal for the lower pay grades who may have been affected by any loss of their earnings.” If the pay package is approved by Unison members, it is estimated that 15% of all staff across both councils are facing a reduction in pay (which will not come into effect until 31 March 2015) and 23% could see an increase.
Stephen Edwards, Forest Heath Cabinet member for resources, said: “This is about making sure that staff who work alongside each other, doing the same job in the same team are working to the same terms and conditions and receive the same pay as their colleagues.”
Cllr Dave Ray, St Edmundsbury Cabinet member for resources, added that “getting a single pay line into place is an essential part of creating a single staff structure”.