Anger as council staff face pay cuts

Jim Board
Jim Board

A UNION leader has slammed the ‘disgraceful’ way Doncaster Council has announced plans to slash staff pay by four per cent and warned industrial action could take place.

On the same day Doncaster councillors agreed to take a five per cent pay cut, the cash-strapped authority warned all its staff earning more than £15,000 - less if they are part-time - that they face a four per cent reduction in their wages.

The changes set to be made to overtime payments and increased wages for long service as well as cuts to the working week could save £6.2 million, the council said.

The latest move revealed to workers last week would mean 250 jobs could be saved, the authority added.

However, Unison branch secretary Jim Board was angry with the lack of consultation with workers and the way in which it was announced.

He said: “It has been handled disgracefully.

“The information was released into the public domain via press releases the council had sent towards the end of the week before many of its workers would have seen their own notification.

“I took phone calls from members crying wondering how on earth they could cope taking such a pay cut.

“Some could stand to lose up to £1,000. They can’t afford that. We are in a very difficult situation we understand that, but our members have a right to feel incredibly angry.

“They’ve been led into a trap by DMBC management. They’ve had no consultation. The council has rushed through this proposal with very little regard for their workers.

“It’s been a big slap in the face for our members. We will be meeting with them throughout the week and advising that our members reject the proposal. There could also be the possibility of further strike action.”

Hundreds of workers have already left the authority as the council attempts to save £71 million in order to meet Government spending targets.

One council worker, who asked not to be named, said some staff could lose around £3,000 per year.

He said: “It’s not the greatest Christmas present when staff have families and are already living on a really tight budget.

“I agree something needs to be done but that doesn’t mean get rid of the good workers or cut their wages. There’s a lot of dead wood in the council which needs to be looked at first before having a go at us.”

Another anonymously told the Free Press they would struggle particularly on the back of the announcement that their free car parking privileges would be scrapped in favour of a £700 parking charge per year instead.

She said: “People are really angry. With parking going up as well as the cost of living, petrol and other things, they’re wondering how they will cope.”

Rob Vincent, the council’s chief executive, said: “We have always been aware that these would be difficult decisions to make but with a backdrop of £71m of savings to make over four years we had no choice but to reconsider our terms and conditions.

“It is also right that we review these as a preference to cutting front line services.

“We have spent many months meeting the trade unions on a weekly basis to work through the initials proposals and we have now presented them with the proposals we intend to take forward.”

Mr Vincent said if the changes were not made, staff would be made redundant.