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Cornish staff to decide on contract changes

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Union members in Cornwall are to be balloted over whether to accept a pay freeze in return for fewer redundancies and extra training money.

Unison, Unite and GMB are to ask members whether they back the deal hammered out between union representatives and Cornwall Council’s management.

The proposed cuts are set to save the council around £6m a year and include plans to freeze incremental pay increases for one year before replacing the time-served system with one based on competencies.

Mileage allowances are also to be reduced, as are enhancements for weekend, night and Bank Holiday working.

Discussions about how the council can cut workforce costs have continued for several months.

Unison regional organiser Stuart Rowden said an initial proposal from council managers presented “a range of horrible things” including reductions to holiday pay, sick pay and the adoption of the statutory minimum for redundancy payments.

The proposal being presented to members was an improvement, he said, with a commitment to not have as many redundancies as would have been the case and a retraining and redeployment package. Unison is not making a recommendation to members on how they should vote, he said.

“We don’t really want to be here, but it is just trying to get to the least worst option,” said Mr Rowden.

“If we are going to do this we can at least get an agreement and draw a line. The fear was that the council would impose something, and dismiss and re-engage, and go for holidays and sick pay.

“We have tried to protect the core conditions. It is damage limitation.”

Cornwall chief executive Kevin Lavery said it had been “a very complex process which has involved many, many hours of discussions”.

He added: “Our aim has been to capture the savings that can be delivered through changes to terms and conditions as early as possible and by agreement with the unions. This will reduce delays in implementing these cost reductions and mean that we do not have make bigger savings in the future.”

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