Opinion Former Article

Unite: Southampton first council offering to reverse pay cuts

The Labour controlled Southampton City Council is the first council to offer to reverse pay cuts imposed by the previous Tory-led council since the coalition government came to power.

Under the offer, all council workers earning less than £35,000 a year will see their pay fully restored by April 2014. Those earning less than £22,000 will have their pay fully restored in November. The chief executive and other senior managers will not see their pay restored until after April 2014 unless further efficiency savings are identified.

The unions had been in dispute with the Tory-led council since early 2011, including taking more than 200 days of targeted industrial action.

Unite and Unison have publicised the details of the proposed settlement to the pay cuts dispute with Southampton City Council (see notes to editors).

Under the terms of a deal negotiated with the new Labour controlled city council which came to power on 3 May 2012, most of the pay cuts imposed by the previous Conservative controlled council will be reversed over the next 18 months. The lowest paid council workers will see their pay restored this November.

In total, £2.3 million is being put back into the wages of council workers. There are no job losses linked to the restoration. By April 2014, 3460 of the 4000 people affected by the pay cuts will have had their pay cuts restored.

Unite and Unison will ballot their members between 14 September and 5 October on the proposals. Both unions are recommending members to accept the settlement. The unions have agreed to suspend industrial action while the ballot takes place, as well as postponing the Employment Tribunal hearing that was due to start in November and scheduled to last five weeks.

Full details of the settlement terms are below.

Unite national officer, Peter Allenson, said:

“Southampton City Council is the first council to reverse pay cuts since the Tory-led government came to power in 2010 with its disastrous austerity agenda. This breakthrough marks a substantial change in culture and it has national significance. Southampton now has a Labour administration willing and eager to treat its employees and the unions who represent them with dignity and respect.”

Unite branch secretary, Mark Wood, said:

“For more than a year, the people of Southampton have needlessly suffered because of Royston Smith’s Tory-led council, which was intent on attacking decent and hardworking public servants.

“The proposed restoration of pay will help Labour deliver on pre-election promises and allow a spirit of cooperation to prevail. With the Tory-led government determined to destroy local services we are going to need Labour controlled councils like Southampton to defend jobs and services.”

ENDS

Contact: Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315

Notes to editors

Details of Settlement Proposals of Pay Cuts Dispute Announced
After two months of negotiations between UNISON / UNITE and the new Labour Administration of Southampton City Council, a proposed settlement of the dispute over pay cuts imposed by the Conservative Council has been agreed. The proposals will go to a UNISON and UNITE membership ballot running from 14 September until 5 October. Both UNISON and UNITE are recommending acceptance of the package.

The proposals are complex and have been drawn up in the context of the Labour Administration’s election pledge to restore pay losses to the low paid Council workforce first.

Pay
Pay is to be restored in three stages over the next 18 months. In total, the Labour Administration is putting £2.3 million back into the Council’s pay bill.

Employee numbers
Band A Less than £17,500 1,317
Band B £17501 to £22,000 865
Band C £22,001 to £35,000 1,278
Band D £35,001 to £65,000 396
Band E Over £65,000 88
Total   3,944

It is proposed as from 1 November 2012:

Those earning up to £17,500 (full time equivalent) will receive an increment payment backdated to May 2012 (unless the individual employee is already on the top of their grade). This increment will also apply from April 2013 to March 2014.
Those earning between £17,500 and £22,000 (full time equivalent) will receive the complete restoration of the 2% pay cut.
Those earning £22,001 to £35,000 will receive a.45% restoration of pay cut.
Staff above £35,000 will receive no immediate restoration.

From April 2013:

Those earning between £22,001 and £35,000 will receive a further 2.25% restoration of pay.
Those earning above £35,000 will receive no restoration from April 2013. As previously agreed, normal increment payments will also resume.

From April 2014:

Those earning between £22,000 and £35,000 will receive a further 1.8% restoration, which will mean that the pay cut is restored in full.
Those earning between £35,000 and £65,000 will receive a 1.82% restoration of their pay.
Those receiving over £65,000 will receive no restoration.
By April 2014, 3,460 of the 4000 people affected by the pay cuts would have had their pay restored.

If the staff identified efficiency savings raise sufficient income, those earning above £35,000 will have their pay restored more quickly.

Additional Annual Leave
No additional leave will be withdrawn in 2012/13. In 2013/14 2 days additional annual leave will be withdrawn for those earning between £22,000 and £35,000. In 2014/15 the additional leave will be withdrawn from those earning between £22,000 to £35,000. Those earning between £35,001 and £65,000 will have 2 days additional annual leave withdrawn.

In addition, an additional half day’s annual leave will be given to all staff on the morning of 24 December 2012.

The City Council is looking to develop a salary sacrifice scheme for annual leave which will enable staff to take additional annual leave at a reduced cost to themselves.

Car Allowances
The Southampton Contractual Car Allowance will be increased from £20 a month to £40 a month from 1 November. A general review of staff travel costs with trade union involvement will take place and will be completed by April 2013.

Market Supplements
The market supplements for social workers will remain in place, subject to the pre-planned review. The social worker posts not in receipt of the market supplement will be reviewed to see if the supplement should be extended to these posts.

Compensation payments to those made redundant
The Council will make compensation payments to those made redundant as a result of the 2011/12 Council budget. These payments will be made via UNISON and Unite.

Legal action
UNISON and UNITE will postpone the hearing of the legal action against the Council while the trade union ballot takes place. If the settlement is accepted in the ballot, the trade unions will withdraw the claims in the trade unions names. Legal assistance will be withdrawn by the trade unions from the individual unfair dismissal claims lodged against the Council by the trade unions. Individual unions members could continue their individual unfair dismissal claims at their own cost but would need to advise UNISON or UNITE within a fortnight of the ballot closing should the result be a vote to accept. UNISON and UNITE would be happy to advise its members of their legal rights to assist them with making a decision on whether to continue with their case.

Industrial action
UNISON and UNITE will suspend the current industrial action while the ballot takes place. If the proposals are accepted, the industrial dispute on this issue will end.

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