Sheffield Council workers’ anger over third pay freeze

Flying the flag: Protesters outside Sheffield Town Hall against last year's freeze.
Flying the flag: Protesters outside Sheffield Town Hall against last year's freeze.
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STAFF at Sheffield Council are facing a pay freeze for the third year running – with staff set to be sacked then rehired on new contracts if trade unions fail to agree to the measure.

Jon Mordecai, Sheffield chairman of Unison, said members have been left ‘really annoyed’ by the proposed pay freeze, which the council says will save £5 million.

He revealed that although talks are taking place between officers and trade unions on the issue, an HR1 form has been issued to the Government notifying it that all the council’s 7,429 non-school or senior management staff will be made redundant if they do not agree to the change.

The staff would then be offered new contracts with the frozen pay.

Mr Mordecai said: “It’s a rather draconian step. Our members have had no pay rise for a long time and have also had to go through the pay and grading process in which some staff received a pay cut.

“We’re really annoyed about it. People are saying they are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet.

“Inflation hasn’t frozen, the cost of living has gone up in a variety of ways and that is putting pressure on our members who have families.”

Council staff held previous protests against pay and grading changes approved last year – when they were also threatened with being made redundant and rehired.

Julie Toner, Sheffield Council’s director of human resources, said: “We are under no illusion that the challenges ahead for the budget are tough and as a responsible organisation we have to consider all the ways we can to make further savings.”

The council said the freeze would protect jobs and services from cuts.

Wages at Barnsley Council are currently frozen under a two-year deal. A spokeswoman said: “In Barnsley Council’s 2011/2012 annual budget, under a two-year deal, there was a deferment of increment payments for employees.

“Staff not due to receive an increment had to buy back three days’ leave and senior executives had a five per cent reduction in pay. Councillors also took a five per cent cut in members’ allowance. A further review of terms and conditions is also due to take place in the near future.”

Rotherham Council said: “We too have had a pay freeze but only as part of the national decision not to award a national increase for the last three years, or four years for chief officers.

“In addition, we also had an additional increment freeze for last year and this financial year, except for the lowest two grades on our pay scales – mainly kitchen and cleaning staff, plus last year we actually had an additional pay reduction of three days – pay equivalent to a 1.15 per cent pay reduction.

“Our increment freeze has been lifted for everyone next year. Having done it for two years and together with the other things we had already done, the politicians felt staff had gone far enough.”

Rotherham and Barnsley councils have not yet revealed their plans about whether or not to give staff pay rises.