South East Wales

Merthyr council backs down over sackings to save money

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Media captionA new report will now be carried out

A council has backed down over plans to dismiss and re-employ council staff on lower pay to save money.

Merthyr Tydfil council bosses wanted workers to accept a pay cut of up to 3%, as recommended in a report, but they refused.

Consequently, the authority threatened to dismiss 1,254 staff at Christmas and offer new contracts on reduced terms.

But on Wednesday that was withdrawn and a new report into the matter will now be carried out.

The GMB union had called the plan "shocking" but the council, which employs 2,880 staff, said it had a legal duty to balance its budget.

Merthyr is facing a budget deficit of £930,000 in the next financial year and the report warns it could grow to £5.8m by 2017/18.

Welsh government funding for the council is being cut by 2.6% next year.

'Horrid task'

The proposal did not involve teachers or school support workers.

The Welsh government said decisions on staffing were matters for local authorities.

In a statement, leader of Merthyr Tydfil council Brendan Toomey said the proposal was not a formal pay offer and subject to full consultation.

He went on to say it was not the council's fault it was in this situation.

"Unfortunately, no matter what we do, it is going to affect somebody," said Mr Toomey.

"None of us want to do this, it's a horrid task, but we have to balance our books somehow and this is not in any way a reflection on our staff who work extremely hard day in day out across the county borough."

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