Union in warning on council job talks

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A TRADE union says it won’t join a “race to the bottom” as council managers prepare to renegotiate “generous” terms and conditions in an effort to save millions.

Staff at Hull Council have been told savings are needed to protect jobs and services. The council has already shed 1,000 jobs and is to axe up to 240 more in its business support section.

However, Unison said they wouldn’t bargain away terms and conditions – described by interim chief executive Darryl Stephenson in an email to staff as generous – “out of hand.”

Perks include mileage allowances of up to 65p a mile – 20p over the standard HM Revenue and Customs rate – and up to 33 days of annual leave for staff on grades 12 and over.

Branch secretary Adrian Kennett said: “Unison will enter into negotiations regarding terms and conditions, indeed we have been asking for their proposals for almost a year without response, and we will look to protect jobs and services.

“This does not mean we will bargain away terms and conditions out of hand. We will also bring proposals to the table and we are acutely aware both of the stringent financial position the employer is in and also the significant amounts of money spent on consultants and agency workers.

“We will not enter into a ‘race to the bottom’, and comparisons with cut-throat private sector and cowboy providers are demeaning and unnecessary. Ultimately, our members will decide on whether any proposed changes are acceptable”.

The council needs to save £33m over the next two financial years. Deputy leader Coun Daren Hale has said they aim to save between £3m and £4m from the changes, starting in 2014.