Early this morning, Salford Council workers leafleted councillors as they arrived for today's full Council Meeting. The leaflets expressed concern that "the Council still intends to bring in a new pay and grading structure from April next year, with or without agreement with the trade unions."
The leaflet added that "The unions are not opposed, in principle to a new structure coming into place by April – provided it is agreed through negotiations. What we cannot accept is a scheme imposed against our will by threat of dismissal and re-engagement…"
This refers to an original Council document, proposing £15million savings to the wage bill through pay cuts – with the threat of the sack if workers refused to sign up for it (for full details see previous Salford Star article – click here).
The leaflet to councillors added that that "Negotiations are no longer based around the original £15million savings proposals that we expressed concern with you about last month and we see this as a step forward…"
But later in the morning Salford City Mayor Ian Stewart railed against "misinformation" on pay and grading and claimed that "Nothing has been withdrawn".
The Mayor also claimed that the new pay and grading structure the Council is trying to bring in has "nothing to do with Government cuts" and that he was trying to get an agreement with the trade unions "to protect the low paid…there's 1200 Council employees below the level of the Living Wage".
The Mayor added that the Council was involved in "sensible collective bargaining" and that "with a joint collective agreement we can resolve these issues".
Speaking to Salford Council workers on the steps of the Town Hall earlier, Salford City UNISON branch secretary Steve North explained that while the unions were committed to negotiations, they were preparing for a ballot on industrial action…
"As long as the negotiations are going well, we'll be involved in those negotiations…but it's important that we bear in mind that at the end of December it could come to a point where they issue notices for dismissal and re-engagement" he explained "They are saying that will depend on how the negotiations are going but we can't just take that at face value, we've got to be prepared…"
This was underlined in the leaflet to councillors…
"We do not wish to see Industrial Action take place in Salford. We are committed to the services we provide for the people of this city. But our pay is under attack nationally and we expect our Council to support us in our fight for decent pay, not to take a leaf out of the Government's book and attack us as they are doing…"
* Salford City UNISON members were joined on the lobby by members of USUC – the United Service Users Committee fighting drop-in closures.
Half way through the lobby, USUC occupied Salford Council chambers where the full Council Meeting was due to take place. Further details and photos click here