Tuesday, 27 May 2014

National pay increases are a pay freeze?

I was surprised to see the Collective Agreement with the unions over terms and conditions described as a local pay freeze. It is anything but.

Rises in pay of most staff at Cornwall Council is negotiated with the unions nationally. This has the benefit that the Council does not need to devote resource to pay bargaining. But it means that the Council is obliged to implement the pay rises agreed nationally - whether it can afford to or not.  All that is now guaranteed to remain in place until at least 2017.

Staff are also guaranteed their existing terms and conditions such as 28 days' holiday after 5 years' service and six months full sick pay and six months on at least half sick pay. 

They also receive 1.75 times their statutory entitlement if they are made redundant.  Interestingly, at the same time the Council announced that, due to budgetary pressures, it will cease to pay teachers any more than their statutory redundancy entitlement. Any extra compensation will need to be funded by the relevant school from its budget.

But Council staff will give up their right to be considered for a bonus on top of their normal pay until 2017.  

The living wage is to be introduced for all directly employed staff. The Council cannot afford to extend this to its subsidiaries such as Cormac where many staff are paid less. It will also not extend to the Council's suppliers. There has been a great deal of concern expressed by the care sector that the failure of the Council to raise their contractual rates will make it a struggle for care homes to meet even the recently increased minimum wage. 

The Collective Agreement is estimated by the Council to save £5.4m a year. The remainder of their target reduction of £190m by 2018/19 it presumably intends to come mainly from jobs cuts and service reductions.

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