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'South & Vale' to freeze pay

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Unison members in Oxfordshire have agreed to forgo their normal pay rise, it has been announced.

A ballot of South Oxfordshire DC and Vale of White Horse DC staff means that plans for a pay freeze in 2011-12, rather than the usual increase in line with inflation, will go ahead.

Joint chief executive David Buckle, left, said the authority, which is not part of the national pay bargaining arrangement and instead awards staff an inflation-matching annual increase, would save nearly £650,000 as a result of the freeze and changes to mileage and redundancy arrangements.

“Everyone thinks this is the sensible thing to do,” he said. “We have our formula of a pay increase in line with RPI, which has worked very well, but now it is out of kilter. The money from the government is going down and RPI is going up, and unions understand that.”

South and Vale, as the pair of councils call themselves, calculated that the increase would have been equivilant to a 3.1% rise and would have added £440,000 to the councils’ wage bills.

A decision to award a small pay rise to staff earning less than £25,000 is set to cost the councils £33,000.

The council has provisionally budgeted for a 2% increase next year, but Mr Buckle said a decision on whether to apply that would have to be made later in the year following discussions with Unison, the only union representing council staff.

Mr Buckle said: “I would like to thank Unison members for agreeing to these proposals.”

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