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8,000 Cumbrian workers face review of pay and conditions

Eight thousand people working for Cumbria County Council are having their pay and conditions reviewed – and some are certain to face a pay cut.

Dave Armstrong: ’Putting lives at risk’

The council is carrying out a job-evaluation process designed to remove differences between the sexes that could trigger equal-pay claims. Trades unions support the idea but not the way it is being done.

Unison and the GMB have written to council chief executive Jill Stannard asking her to hang fire.

The council is pushing ahead regardless.

Letters will go to staff over the next two weeks giving each a ‘role profile’ and putting them in one of seven groupings or ‘job families’.

Those who think their profile is wrong, or they are in the group, can appeal. But they must appeal before they know how their pay is affected – that will be revealed in the New Year after the appeals.

Dave Armstrong, regional officer for Unison, said: “We are annoyed that the council appeal to be steam rollering this through. They have gone way over the top.

“We don’t agree with the job-families approach. It’s lumping people together with undue haste.

“They still haven’t explained fully how this will work and the appeals process hasn’t been agreed with us.”

GMB organiser Ged Caig believes the council is in breach of a national agreement.

He said: “They are ignoring our views and no meaningful consultation has taken place.”

The shake up affects the vast majority of council staff.

Firefighters and teachers are not included – although non-teaching staff in schools are – nor are senior officers including Mrs Stannard, corporate directors and assistant directors.

The council is determined to implement the new pay structure by next September at the latest.

It is increasing the £138m annual salary pot by £6m to soften the blow.

Jim Savege, the council’s corporate director for organisational development, said it was too early to say how many winners or losers there will be or how much they might gain or lose.

He added: “We anticipate there will be staff going up and going down in terms of base pay. Whilst we’ve put money into the pot, it won’t allow everybody to go up.”

Experience elsewhere suggests that blue-collar workers such as cooks, cleaners and care workers tend to gain from job evaluation while white-collar admin staff lose out.

Those whose pay is cut will have a period of pay protection, possibly a year, to give them time to adjust before the lower salary applies.

Council officials expect up to 40 per cent of staff to lodge appeals in the next few weeks.

The authority has brought in HR consultants to run a helpline to answer questions from employees.

Mr Savege hopes that it will be possible to reach agreement with the unions buy says the council will impose a settlement if it has to.

He said: “If we can’t reach agreement with the trades unions, which would be disappointing, our first responsibility would be to put new pay arrangements in place.”

The council has already paid £39.5m to settle equal-pay claims from female staff who argued they were employed on less-generous terms than men doing equivalent work.

All local authorities are required to go through job evaluation to avoid this happening.

As well as affecting rates of pay, it will get rid of anomalies such as bonuses and unsocial hours’ payments made to some staff but not others.

Carlisle City Council imposed new pay rates in March after it completed a job-evaluation process but failed to come to an agreement with Unison.

A total of 389 staff got an immediate pay increase but 207 lost out with the cut deferred for a year.

Some will see their annual salary shrink by £5,000 from March 2011.

Have your say

the contracts that were sent out contained info that was supposed to direct us (via web sites) to relevent infomation concerning holidays and how to work stuff out, guess what- no info is provided or available, were supposed to go to our line managers for information about it all, guess what - they dont have any information (even the area managers dont know much). i cant believe that the council can be so blinkered and carry this on at the cost of millions at a time when they are making horrific cuts to services left, right and centre.

Posted by foz on 19 June 2011 at 13:00

night staff at ccc residential home we are PCD1A we are to loose 17p per hour but be given a primia pay (fancy word for shift allowance) of £7.50 per shift =83p per hour but we loose this when on holiday off sick or taking L/Nights there are 2 night staff on duty for max 34 service users we are responsable for medication security and health & safty of these day staff get 90p per hour rise loose nothing if off have a minimum of 10-11 people in the building and manager and supervisors take the responsability never mind single status its discrimination we appealed got letter dated 21 aprilsaying we had parcially won our appeal upping our grade from 5 to 6 giving us a rise then got letter dated 20th may saying we had lost our appeal do they know what they are doing

Posted by julie metcalfe on 29 May 2011 at 14:15

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