Unions reject deal with Southampton Council

Posted on November 22, 2011 by

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Council Worker unions in Southampton have rejected the Council’s ‘final proposal’ for pay and job cuts amongst its staff, with nearly 70% of members of the Unite and Unison unions voting against them.

Out of 2400 members balloted between them, Unison rejected the proposals 389 to 340, whilst Unite rejected it 266 to 53.  62.5% of UCATT members also voted to reject the proposals.

Union leaders indicated that the Council’s demand that the Unions dropped their court case against the council over an alleged failure to properly consult workers over mass dismissals in April.

The ‘privatisation’ plans announced last week have also caused a stir amongst union members, with many workers worried that they’ll be transferred to private companies outside of existing pay deals and lose previous gains or their jobs.  Representatives from Southampton Anti-cuts union and the Shop stewards Network also protested outside the Civic Centre on Monday during the meeting discussing the controversial plans.

Under the Tories revised plans, those earning the full time equivalent of up to £22000 would not have received a pay cut, whilst those on higher grades would have received pay cuts of between 3.2% and 5%.  All staff would then be subject to a three year pay freeze and a two year block on annual career increment increases along with a reduction in car allowances of around 20%.

The Unions have promise tat with the rejection they will continue their legal action against the Council, with further action to be discussed in the coming weeks.  They’ll also be joining in the national walkouts in the Public Sector against Government pension cuts on November 30th.

UNISON Branch Secretary, Mike Tucker, commented, “Union members have again rejected the Council’s wage cuts. The vote was influenced by the further 143 redundancies the Conservatives announced in October and the mass privatisation they announced in November. The Conservative controlled Council is at war with its workforce as they continue to make them pay for a crisis we did not create. UNISON members will strike on 30 November as part of the on-going campaign to defend our pay, services and pensions against the austerity programme of the Government”.

UNITE Convenor, Mark Wood, commented, “Each union has sent a clear message to SCC, in that the council has reneged on the contractual arrangement with its employees and we are determined to continue the campaign for fairness. They have placed clearly unacceptable pre-conditions on this proposal, resulting in this resounding rejection. We stated from the start that promises from Council leaders to protect jobs and services were false, but as even more redundancies are announced and plans for the wholesale privatisation of services are uncovered, we take no comfort as the unfortunate truth is revealed”.

Council leader Royston Smith said: “Today’s result is hugely disappointing and I am sure that the vast majority of our residents will share this disappointment.  The improved and final offer made by the council would have protected more than half of the organisation from direct pay cuts while protecting services by keeping our staff employed.”

Picture Credit Guy Smallman

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Posted in: News, Southampton