Flintshire County Council statement on the ‘single status’ agreement
Flintshire County Council at a special meeting on Tuesday 29 October approved, by unanimous agreement, the recommended collective agreement for Single Status.
This is a major step forward for the organisation and is the culmination of four years of complex work to develop a more acceptable agreement than the one rejected in 2009 when there was concern over the scale of loss for some work groups and individual employees.
Councillor Aaron Shotton, Leader of the Council said:
“In unanimously supporting the proposed agreement, County Councillors have taken positive action to address the issue of low pay for a significant proportion of the workforce.”
Under a national agreement, and to avoid the litigation and the potential costs of Equal Pay claims, all Councils have to adopt a Single Status Agreement.
Under such Agreements modern pay structures are introduced which ensure that there is both fairness of pay and terms and conditions of employment for all employees. Without such an Agreement employers can be exposed to costly Equal Pay legal claims.
Most of Flintshire’s workforce other than teachers will be affected by the new pay structure. Some employees will receive an increase in their base pay, others a decrease, and many will be unaffected. New terms and conditions which cover entitlements such as premium payments for working anti-social hours and car allowances will cover the whole workforce apart from teachers.
There are two significant features to the new proposed Agreement. Firstly, a solution for low pay which affects large numbers of predominantly female workers in services such as catering, cleaning and social care. Secondly, a better deal on ‘pay protection’ to protect those who will lose pay and could face personal hardship as a consequence.
On low pay the Council proposes to delete the three lowest pay points in the current pay structure so that the lowest paid employees will be paid above the Minimum Wage (at £6.90 which is above the Minimum Wage by £0.59 per hour) at the bottom of their career grade and will meet the Living Wage (£7.45 per hour) at the top of their grade. National Trade Unions have long argued that low pay in local government is some of the worst in the public sector, and a growing number of responsible public sector employers have been campaigning for the Living Wage to be adopted across England and Wales.
On pay protection all employees who suffer a loss in base pay under the proposed Agreement will have their pay protected from loss for the first two years. Those who suffer significant loss will have their pay protected in part for a further two years. The Council has a duty of care to its employees and has to balance the cost of the Agreement with managing morale and performance, and in preventing a loss of key employees seeking better paid jobs elsewhere.
The Trade Unions, whose representative attended yesterday’s meeting, now need to secure the permission of their national offices to ballot the workforce on the proposals. If this permission is forthcoming the aim is to run the ballot in late 2013.
Chief Executive Colin Everett said:
“The Single Status Agreement represents four years of hard work to get the best deal which protects the Council from legal claims for historic unfair pay, is acceptable to the workforce, and is affordable. By modernising the terms and conditions of employment we are able to introduce more flexible services such as weekend waste collection and customer services at no extra cost to the local taxpayer. The workforce has anxiously and patiently waited for this new deal.”
Sarah Taylor, Unison said on behalf of the Trade Unions
“The Joint Trade Unions are supportive of the proposals for both the pay model and the revised terms and conditions. The work that has been undertaken in partnership with the Authority has been intense and highly complex: whilst we have not always agreed entirely with each other we have conducted the negotiations in a conducive tone, with respect for each other. The negotiations have been open, honest and transparent; that style of working needs to continue to conclude the process and ensure a seamless implementation of the agreement.” Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com