Industrial action close as council pay talks stumble

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COUNCILS across Yorkshire are braced for a wave of industrial action next year as talks stall over pay deals ahead of 2012 budget settlements.

Many authorities in the region are locked in discussions with union leaders over changes to staff pay as they attempt to manage another round of multi-million pound savings during the next financial year.

However union bosses have said they are not prepared to support wage cuts for their members to cover the costs of central Government spending cuts.

In Wakefield, council leaders must save £22m. They have asked staff to accept a pay freeze to save £4m, in return for a guarantee of no compulsory job losses.

Union leaders have taken legal advice and been told the offer does not meet equality standards and therefore refused to put the offer to members. Sources have told the Yorkshire Post that in principle they would recommend members reject the proposal in any case and it is understood they will consider a ballot for industrial action should an improved offer not be forthcoming.

Chief executive Joanne Roney said they could not rule out compulsory redundancies, but would do everything to prevent them.

“We may need to make these savings through redundancies,” she said. “This could be between 100 to 200 posts.

“However, we are still negotiating with the trade unions.”

Doncaster Council is asking staff to take a four per cent pay cut – estimated to save £6.2m – with the guarantee of a 2.5 per cent pay award the following year.

Unison officials at the council said they will recommend rejection of the offer and are prepared to ballot for industrial action.

John Cafferty, Unison regional secretary, said: “These savage Government cuts are devastating because there is no mythical waste to reduce or fat to trim.

“We are calling on councils to use their collective voice to demand an end to these rapid and deep cuts which are choking off recovery and condemning countless public and private sector workers to poverty and hopelessness.”

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