Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting WN NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Council staff 'under attack'
SICK pay is being slashed, holidays reduced and salary increases delayed as part of a controversial “attack” on council workers.
Unison has refused to rule out strike action after Worcester City Council chiefs outlined a range of cutbacks from April next year.
- Binmen will have to “make themselves available” for an extra 20 days every two years to “catch up” on collections following Christmas, Easter and other public holidays;
- Sick pay cut to 90 per cent of a worker’s salary
- No pay rise in 2013, despite an existing three-year freeze
- Annual leave reduced to a maximum of 30 days by 2015, affecting long serving workers who have earned 32, 33 or even 34 days off by staying loyal to the authority.
The document, which was produced following consultation between council bosses and the unions, was drawn up in an attempt to save £300,000, say Unison.
At the moment a powerful body called the National Joint Committee for Local Government (NJC) is negotiating with the Local Government Association (LGA) for public sector pay rises in 2013 nationwide.
Historically local authorities have gone along with the agreement, but the report says it will “not be implemented” until 2014 in Worcester.
It adds if the NJC agrees a fresh nationwide deal for April 2014, it will also face a delay of 12 months before becoming active, and that the authority could scrap it altogether depending on “the overall financial position of the council at the time”.
Binmen will get overtime payments for working up to 20 extra days every two years, as well as a £240 annual bonus.
When it comes to holidays, workers join on 21 days and it slowly rises along a sliding scale based on the number of years in employment.
A very small number of older staff who have worked more than 15 years have accrued up to 34 days.
Unison members are being asked to vote for or against it by Monday, November 5, and if it is rejected, workers will be asked what they think about strike action.
Steve Brown, of Worcestershire’s Unison branch, said: “We cannot recommend this to our members at the moment.
“It’s an attack on our terms and conditions, and I can’t recommend they take this hit. The council has said, ‘We need to save £300,000, this is how we’ll do it – nobody is pretending they are happy.”
The council, which employs about 350 people, is fearing the worst when it comes to future Government grant funding. It has produced a strategy outlining a ‘worst case scenario’ of cuts of up to 40 per cent by 2017/18, which would require savings of £3.25 million.
Duncan Sharkey, the managing director, said: “The council has made significant savings through efficiencies in recent years and this review of terms and conditions is part of that process.”