West Suffolk: Vote is soon taking place on new pay package for council staff

West Suffolk House in Bury which is home to St Edmundsbury Borough Council

West Suffolk House in Bury which is home to St Edmundsbury Borough Council - Credit: Archant

UNION staff at Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council will soon be voting on whether to accept a new pay package.

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 new pay package creates a single set of terms and conditions across both councils and ensures that staff doing the same job get the same pay.

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 committed 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 payline.

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 National has seen the package and has approved 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.

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A spokesman from West Suffolk Unison said: “Unison have 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, most staff will see no difference in their pay, others will see an increase while it is estimated 15% of all staff across both councils face a reduction in pay.

Councillor 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.”

Councillor Dave Ray, St Edmundsbury Cabinet member for resources, said: “The staff at both councils are extremely hardworking, dedicated professionals and getting a single payline into place is an essential part of creating a single staff structure.”

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