North East Wales

Staff ballot rejects Flintshire council jobs shake-up

Staff at Flintshire council have rejected plans to change their working week after a ballot among unions.

The authority said the move is needed as a top priority, saving £1.8m over the next three years.

It wanted to combine 300 staff in one section to cover holidays, keeping their hours but introducing a four-day week, and some Saturday working.

The council called the ballot result extremely disappointing, and said it needed to consider its options.

Three unions Unite, Unison and the GMB are involved. They said the talks with management would continue and they will go back to staff to identify "sticking points" as the reasons people voted against may be different.

The authority said the move would improve efficiency, reduce the need for agency staff to cover holidays and sickness, and increase the basic pay for about 70% of workers.

Waste collections

Flintshire council has been in discussions with the unions to combine operational staff in its environment department into a single section called Streetscene.

The service covers waste collections, cleansing as well as highways and grounds maintenance which, the council says, needs to save £600,000 this financial year and £1.2m in 2012/13.

About 70% of the workforce are union members and they were issued with ballot papers on the proposed new terms and conditions.

Staff would be asked to work a four-day week, doing the same number of hours, and working one Saturday in three.

Colin Everett, Flintshire's chief executive, said the authority was now considering its options.

"The service changes need to happen as a top priority for the council - improving the service for the council and finding the savings we need.

"We are now in urgent talks with the trades unions to re-discuss our plans so that we can move forward."

Allan Parry, branch secretary for Unite which represents about 150 staff involved in the vote, attended a meeting with council officials on Tuesday to discuss the next stage in negotiations.

He said members could be consulted to find out their issues for opposing the changes, but said working Saturdays and making staff work a longer day were two main issues as most currently worked shifts from 07:30 - 16:00 five days a week.

Nancy Matthews, the council executive member for waste, said: "The proposals protected front line jobs during difficult times and offered staff greater opportunities to undertake training and develop their careers with the council.

"I am extremely disappointed the staff have chosen to reject the proposals."

More on this story