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UNITARY STAFF SUFFER DEMOTIONS AND CUTS

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Hundreds of staff in Humberside face compulsory redundancy, while careers throughout Britain's reorganising council...
Hundreds of staff in Humberside face compulsory redundancy, while careers throughout Britain's reorganising councils take a downward plunge as staff are transferred into lower- grade jobs.

Although their pay is protected for three years under a government scheme, some face drastic salary cuts after this.

Sources from within the provincial council for Yorkshire and Humberside say around 800 Humberside staff have yet to find work. Unions and employers claim Humberside CC knew that during its last year in operation it was overstaffed, and the unitary councils will now have to make severe cuts. Unison estimates the combined deficit for the four new unitary councils in Humberside is £57 million.

All Humberside CC staff have been transferred to unitary councils, but many arrived for work last week to find they had nothing to do.

'We are expecting there are going to be fewer jobs than there are people,' said Philip Chapman, employers' secretary for Yorkshire and Humberside.

Elsewhere, staff are coming to terms with pay cuts and demotions. A senior officer at City of Glasgow Council has taken a job which pays £17,000 a year less than his former post, while in Highland Council, a former depute director has taken a 25% pay cut.

In Wales there were more than 400 staff at the end of March waiting to be told what jobs they would have.

Dawn Hayes, senior officer for Unison's Welsh Region, said senior officers were being offered clerical work.

Housing staff at Cardiff CC are being balloted for industrial action over the closure of neighbourhood housing offices which Unison says will cost over 100 jobs.

Unison in Scotland and Wales argues that staff who want work should not be transferred to lower-grade jobs, but should retain their pay and conditions under TUPE.

Mark Irvine, Unison head of local government in Scotland, wrote to chief executives earlier this year warning that unless they protected staff under TUPE law, the union would take councils to court.

Unison is now gathering test cases which it hopes to bring to court in the summer.

Some staff are still without desks or unsure where and with whom they are supposed to be working. Others have been told to stay at home or turn up late.

'For people who are going through it, it's just another disruption they can do without,' Mr Irvine said.

Most people in Cleveland have been found suitable jobs, and Avon councils have promised there will be no compulsory redundancies. But Unison regional officer Richard Jewison said there are fears over budget cuts. 'There is a huge degree of anxiety hanging over all the authorities about what the future holds,' he said.

City of York Unison is balloting staff for a series of one- day strikes, because it claims the council has used reorganisation to introduce changes to terms and conditions without consultation with staff representatives.

Staff will now have to work until 5pm instead of 4.30pm on Fridays, and free city centre parking has been replaced by a free car park and bus service from outside the city. Holiday entitlement has also changed.

North Yorkshire CC and York have failed to agree on who should take responsibility for the handful of county staff due to transfer to York. There is no work for them in the county, and many are now on extended leave.

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