Council social workers face pay cuts and mandatory unpaid leave

Northamptonshire Council has launched a consultation with local trade unions over proposals to avoid further redundancies by changing staff terms and conditions and reducing salaries.

Picture credit: Paul Brown/Rex Features

Social workers and care staff at Northamptonshire Council could see their pay slashed by 3.6% and changes made to their sick pay and annual leave arrangements, under proposals put to unions yesterday for consultation.

The authority has proposed reducing pay by 3.6% on average across the entire workforce, excluding staff in schools and the fire department. The size of the cuts may vary according to salary.

It is also proposing to make changes to staff terms and conditions, including a reduction in sick pay and mandatory unpaid leave of up to three days per year, instead of or as well as the pay cuts. It is hoped these proposals will avoid the need for further redundancies.

But the local branch of trade union GMB has expressed outrage at the move, which could affect more than 5,000 members of staff.

Regional officer Rachelle Wilkins said: “GMB members work hard, earn an honest living, and save for a rainy day, and are hit with a sledgehammer of disproportionate cuts of crippling proportions.
  
The union said it would “fiercely negotiate to protect our members terms and conditions and defending any further pay cuts” during the 90-day consultation.

“We will be tabling proposals of our own to the council, which we hope will be  listened to fairly and reasonably, and given the due consideration worthy of our workers and their families future,” said Wilkins.

Northamptonshire said it had reached a stage where it could no longer make redundancies and run a full service, so it was forced instead to look at employment costs.

“Over the last few years the council has seen significant reductions in the number of employees so much so that it is felt many services are now stretched to capacity,” said a spokesperson for the council.

“This means we are now left with no option but to look at employment costs rather than even more redundancies than currently forecast. The council recognises the commitment all our employees show and these proposals are in no way a reflection of the significant achievements they make everyday.

“However, we all have no option but to address the financial realities that face the council and therefore have very reluctantly started to consult on these proposals.”

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