Wales

Unions agree to Neath Port Talbot council staff pay cut

Dustbin lorry worker
Image caption The savings deal will see thousands of workers agree to a 2% pay cut

A council that warned 7,000 workers it may have to dismiss them and re-employ them on new terms says it has reached an agreement with unions on savings.

Neath Port Talbot council issued the warning in June saying it has to close a £24m gap in its budget by 2014.

Unions agreed to staff taking a 2% pay cut in addition to a proposed three-year pay freeze.

However, staff now have to be balloted on whether to accept the deal made between the council and their unions.

Unison, which has nearly 3,000 members, said: "We can't say were pleased but we hope it will help to protect jobs."

The deal, covering the members of four unions, including Unite and Unison, is to go out to a ballot before Christmas.

The pay deduction scheme would see the lowest paid not losing any pay while "several thousand" staff would have a pay deduction of less than 2%.

The pay of chief executive Steve Phillips would drop by 3% for the same period.

Image caption Neath Port Talbot said it will reduce the number of posts by 750

Overtime and unsocial hours payments will also be cut to time-plus-30% while work on negotiations on new work rotas and other changes by September 2011 is to continue.

Unison regional officer Eddie Gabrielsen said: "For many of our members it means a pay cut if the ballot we intend to hold is accepted.

"We understand that our members won't be overjoyed at seeing their pay reduced at a time when they are being hard hit, and we ask our members to think very carefully when casting their vote.

"However, we are hopeful that it will help to protect jobs in the longer time but we appreciate the hardship that our members will go through.

"We also believe that this is unnecessary as the government is seeking to reduce public spending too quickly which will not only have a detrimental effect on the national economy but also on local economies.

'Challenging'

Council Leader, Councillor Alun Thomas, said: "This deal represents a vitally important, but fair and balanced package of measures to help the council through what will be an immediate and very challenging period in its finances as a consequence of the cuts to public services and avoids the need for greater reductions in front line services.

"Together with a range of other measures, including the recently announced a voluntary redundancy scheme and a new sickness absence policy, the council will be much better placed to meet the challenges ahead."

The council has said it will reduce its workforce by about 750 full-time posts through natural wastage, voluntary redundancies and service changes.

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