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SANDWELL IMPOSES SINGLE STATUS DEAL

04-06-2009

More than 10,000 workers at Sandwell Council are digesting news of their new Single Status pay offer. The deal is likely to be imposed because it still doesn't have union backing.

Around one in ten staff (about 1,300 people) face a pay cut under the proposals – aimed at reducing wage inequality - with the remainder likely to stay the same or earn more. The losers will be typically £1,400 worse off; but they will have their current salary protected for 12 months, at a cost of £1.8 million.

According to the Council, about half the workforce (most of them women) will enjoy a pay increase averaging around £820 a year.

In the first 12 months, the scheme is expected to cost more than £4 million.

Over the longer term, Sandwell has been allowed to borrowed £40 million to settle equal pay claims, and has already agreed terms with almost 4,000 staff.

The deputy leader Cllr Pauline Hinton issued a statement saying, “Our aim is a pay and grading system which is fair to staff, affordable to taxpayers and meets our legal obligations.

"Despite constructive debate and our best efforts, we have to date not had a formal response from trade unions.

"To make progress therefore, with cabinet and council approval, we plan to consult 10,800 staff individually on what the proposals mean to them and ask them to sign new contracts of employment incorporating the new system.”

A deadline of January 1 to implement the new scheme, which is being funded by cash already set aside. Cabinet is expect to approve the plans next week, which will then be ratified by full Council seven days later.

If other local authorities including Birmingham are any guide, Sandwell can expect a union backed legal challenge to defend the salaries of the (mostly male) bonus earners who are set to lose out.

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