A COUNCIL’S plans to cut workers’ pay by sacking and re-hiring them on amended contracts could lead to industrial action, a union warned.
Sefton council officers have identified a £6m saving by making changes to employees’ terms and conditions.
The proposal, to be discussed as part of the council’s £44m cuts drive at a cabinet meeting today, would result in a freeze in pay increments, the non-awarding of any national pay rise and a reduction in overtime pay.
A council report suggested that “all other terms and conditions areas were open for discussion” in consultations with unions, including the increases in car parking charges and reductions in car mileage rates.
Sefton Unison have told the council it is unprepared to accept any changes to contractual conditions – and doing so would lead to a ballot for industrial action.
Branch secretary Glen Williams said: “We are not going to enter into a collective agreement so the council would have to impose any changes without our support.
“We don’t want to see any contractual changes, we are happy to discuss non-contractual changes to save money, but we will go no further.
“Anything further than that would lead to a ballot for industrial action.”
Mr Williams said there was discord among members who campaigned for Labour in their local election triumph in May on an apparent promise that workers’ terms would remain unchanged.
He added: “The broader context is that a lot of members went out and worked hard to get the Labour group elected with a mandate that there wouldn’t be contractual changes.
“If there was some guarantee that accepting these terms and conditions would lead to no further compulsory redundancies we might be prepared to listen, but there isn’t.”
Sefton bosses are already making staff take unpaid leave over the Christmas period by shutting down services.
Thousands of workers will have no option but to take four days off with no pay.
The “Christmas closure” will see all but critical council services shut down until early in the New Year including libraries and leisure centres.
The council report tells how the GMB and Unite unions have also refused to sign a collective agreement.
The report author states: “It must be emphasised that the dismissal and re-engagement of employees would not mean job losses for individuals, but would offer continued employment on a basis of an agreement to work to a changed contract of employment reflecting terms and conditions which would give a budgetary saving.
“The aim of making the changes in terms and conditions would be in order to realise budget savings and avoid further options being taken in relation to service reduction and loss of employment.”
Mr Williams added that up to 200 jobs could be at risk in the latest savings drive.
Proposals include switching off street lights across Sefton, shutting day-care centres, raising pay and display charges and closing the borough’s public toilets.