Wales politics

Row over Bridgend council's staff pay freeze plan

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Media captionBridgend council says it will save £1m and help protect jobs and services

A row has broken out over a council's decision to propose a pay freeze for all staff other than the lowest paid.

Bridgend council says it will save £1m and help protect jobs and services.

It is the only authority out of the 22 in Wales which has not negotiated pay rises with unions as part of the National Joint Council for Local Government Services.

The council, which needs to save £36m in the next few years, currently spends 68% of its £225m budget on wages.

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Media captionPolitical reporter James Williams spoke to Unison representative Jane Iles

"Obviously this is a difficult choice to make as it means stepping away from national pay negotiations, but the authority believes that by doing so we will be able to limit job losses as much as possible while continuing to provide and protect essential services," said the council in a statement.

This year other councils have offered all staff a rise of 1%, and the lowest paid a slightly higher rise.

But Bridgend council has decided to make its own individual offer of 1% to staff on grades one and two who are earning less than £14,880, and a pay freeze for everyone else.

Unison claims the proposal will "set the ball rolling on regional pay, the very same policy that the Labour party is opposed to".

In response, First Minister Carwyn Jones, the AM for Bridgend, said he is willing to meet with unions or the Labour-run council.

He said: "Unison have contacted me about this issue and as a local assembly member, I am willing to meet with either themselves or the local authority, to help find a resolution to this matter."

And last year in his speech to the Labour conference, Mr Jones accused the Conservatives of trying to undermine UK-wide pay agreements by floating the idea of the regional pay, before later dropping it.

Representatives from Unison, GMB and Unite unions are meeting the council's cabinet later today to formally oppose the decision to opt out of the national pay bargaining system.

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