Union ballots members over single pay structure for St Edmundsbury Borough and Forest Heath District Council

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Union members at two councils which are to share staff and services to cut costs, are to vote on whether to accept a single pay package.

If approved by Unison members, around 15 per cent of staff at St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council will see a pay reduction from March 2015.

An estimated 23 per cent meanwhile are expected to see a pay increase as workers doing the same job at the two different councils, are brought in line with each other.

Cllr Stephen Edwards, Forest Heath Cabinet member for Resources, said:

“This is about making sure that staff who work alongside each other, doing the same job in the same team are working to the same terms and conditions and receive the same pay as their colleagues.”

The two councils have already trimmed their top levels of management bringing savings of around £870,000 a year. Since 2009 they have also cut staff from 883 to 718.

Joint Chief Executive Ian Gallin said: “We have already made large savings from our pay budgets over the past couple of years, including £870,000 a year from senior management.

“For these negotiations we had a fixed amount of pay available and our discussions were around how to allocate that within the new single staff structure.”

Unison members will be receiving a letter with their ballot paper which is due to start within a few days and take two weeks.

A spokesperson from West Suffolk Unison said: “Unison have been in regular negotiations for a number of months with the management regarding the pay line and terms and conditions for staff.

“Members will soon be asked to ballot on a package that ensures members who carry out the same job across both authorities are paid at the same level and with the same terms and conditions.

“The original proposal made to Unison has been considerably improved particularly to get a better deal for the lower pay grades who may have been affected by any loss of their earnings.”

Cllr Dave Ray, St Edmundsbury Cabinet member for Resources, said:

“The staff at both councils are extremely hardworking, dedicated professionals and getting a single payline into place is an essential part of creating a single staff structure.”