BASILDON Council’s Cabinet agreed pay cuts for a third of Council workers last night (Thursday, 17 May) due to Government guidelines to equalise pay.
The Council has been forced to introduce the new framework of pay known as ‘Single Status’ under the Equality Act which says all public sector organisations must have a common pay scale to sort out wgae inequalities between the sexes.
The new framework of pay, grading, terms and conditions will apply to over 900 council staff and should be introduced before the end of the year and is based on job roles and is not a reflection on individual staff.
The decision had to be taken without the support of Unison, the largest of our recognised unions who despite the deadline for negotiations being extended up to the very last moment felt unable to reach an agreed position due to outstanding issues.
In making its decision, Cabinet delegated authority to formally implement the scheme to the Cabinet Member with responsibility for Single Status, Cllr Phil Turner and the Chief Executive, Bala Mahendran.
This still allows for negotiation to continue to try and achieve collective agreement without missing deadlines for this important challenge for the organisation.
Commenting on the decision Cllr Phil Turner, said: “I am satisfied that we took the decision tonight to implement Single Status and have retained the opportunity to still reach agreement with our largest recognised Union so that they can support the package. We have also agreed to further review our standby arrangements. Although we have not gained union support yet, we had to take a decision tonight.
“What Cabinet has done is to delegate the responsibility to myself and the Chief Executive. This allows us to progress implementation arrangements without closing the door to further collective bargaining.
“However if we cannot reach an agreement then I am absolutely convinced that the package on the table is the best and fairest one available so we will, if necessary, go ahead without the support of Unison. And that will implementation through dismissal and re-engagement if necessary.”
34 per cent of Council staff will see their pay packets reduced under the guidelines that are a legal obligation for every authority.
Speaking about the impact on staff Chief Executive of Basildon Council, Bala Mahendran added:
“I am acutely aware of the impact that Single Status is going to have on many of our staff. One third are set to see their pay cut. I have already said I can not make it go away. Implementing Single Status is the right thing to do and something we are obliged to do by law – at the end of the day we do not have any choice.
“Like Cllr Turner I am convinced that the package on the table is a good and fair one. This has never been about saving money – in fact the package is costing us money over the next three years but we had to get the balance right between what was good for our staff and what was affordable for the council and the borough. I believe that is what we have done.
“I am promising every help and support we can give as an employer to those of our staff who are negatively affected by the changes. We have put a number of measures in place and senior managers along with Human Resources will be on hand to both give advice and make sure colleagues know exactly what is available should they need support and advice.”
Council Leader Tony Ball said previously: “We are doing it as it is the right thing to do and there is an emphasis on support for those losing out, there is a plethora of support.”
Not everybody will be losing out, with 60 per cent of Council employees set to see an increase in their wages with six per cent seeing no change at all.