Staff morale could be hit by wage drop

SOME staff at Mid Suffolk District Council are being asked to take a pay cut of up to £3,000 in a move which is blighting morale, a union has warned.Public service union Unison, said Mid Suffolk District Council has money for salaries and wants to pay more to new recruits to attract them and keep them at the authority, taking the money from longer serving employees.

SOME staff at Mid Suffolk District Council are being asked to take a pay cut of up to £3,000 in a move which is blighting morale, a union has warned.

Public service union Unison, said Mid Suffolk District Council has money for salaries and wants to pay more to new recruits to attract them and keep them at the authority, taking the money from longer serving employees.

It is understood about 95 staff - up to a quarter of staff - could be forced to take pay cuts from January 2005, mainly among the junior ranks and a Unison meeting was underway yesterday for all members.

In a letter to councillors Stuart Davey, Unison branch chairman at the council, said morale would suffer, the issue of keeping staff would worsen, and this would leave others under increased pressure.


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Roger Saunders, Conservative leader of the council, said the changes involve moving from a pay regime where people receive extra money for length of service to a pay structure which recognises competency.

One member of staff said: "Just under 25% of staff from January 1, 2005 would be taking a pay cut, we are talking about up to £3,000. This will mostly affect people on the lower end of the salary scales.

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"This is not happening until January 2005 and this gives people a lot of time to dwell on it, it will affect morale. The union is still in consultation over this and they need to seek union support and approval and I can not see that happening at the moment."

Mr Davey has written to councillors offering them the chance to talk directly with Unison.

A statement released by Mid Suffolk District Council said: "The council is modernising its pay structure in a bid to boost recruitment levels, increase staff retention, and bring council pay structure in line with other organisations in the public and private sector, including other local authorities in Suffolk.

"The council is hoping that by introducing a new pay structure, which rewards employees on their competency levels rather than time served, council services will improve and that customers will be the ultimate beneficiaries.

"The council also hopes that by offering fair and competitive salaries, in line with the market rate, that it will be able to boost recruitment and increase staff retention, a problem that has been experienced by the council for some time.

"Mid Suffolk District Council is the first council in Suffolk to introduce a pay structure that rewards employees on competency levels, as opposed to time served.''

Mr Saunders added that changes would not be implemented until January 2005, which gives time for detailed discussion and clarification. He said that the matter is being dealt with by senior directors and councillors are not directly involved at this stage.

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