Shropshire Council approves staff pay cut

Shropshire Council has overwhelmingly backed plans to cut staff pay by 2.7% annually over two years from October.

The Conservative-led authority has warned that a pay cut is necessary to avoid up to 500 redundancies.

Alan James, Shropshire branch secretary for Unison, said he was disappointed at the decision and that it would have a "massive effect" on the lives of council staff and their families.

On Monday the union voted to ballot its members over industrial action.

The council needs to find £76m of savings over the next three years.

It is estimated the latest plans will ultimately save about £7m a year.

From 1 October staff earning more than £14,733, including the chief executive, will face two annual cuts of 2.7%.

Council leader Keith Barrow said the cuts would be graded to protect the lowest-paid staff and those earning less than £13,189 would not be affected at all.

Mr Barrow said the decision would be reviewed after a year. The second 2.7% cut would only be implemented if extra money could not be found.

'Local economy'

Unison has claimed that taking into account a two-year pay freeze, the current level of inflation and plans for pensions, the cuts equate to 15 or 16%.

Mr James said that as the largest employer in the county, the council cuts would also affect the local economy.

Chief executive Kim Ryley said that if an agreement could not be reached with the union, the authority would look to force through its plans.

"That would involve us technically dismissing all our staff and re-engaging them on new terms," Mr Ryley said.

Staff also face changes to their working conditions, including sickness benefits and annual leave entitlement.

Amendments proposed by Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors at the meeting on Thursday were rejected.

The Liberal Democrats proposed to use reserves to protect those earning less than £20,295.

Labour recommended delaying the decision to allow further consultation to take place with staff and unions.

Mr Ryley said, as a new unitary authority, the council had inherited little reserves and using them would "store up risk for the future".

He added that any delay in implementing the decision would mean the council would fail to meet its targets for the current financial year.

"That means, when we get to it, whatever is finally agreed, the impact on staff would be even greater," Mr Ryley said.

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