Sheffield Council accused of ‘intimidating’ staff

John  Mothersole, chief executive, Sheffield City Council
John Mothersole, chief executive, Sheffield City Council
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TRADE union officials have accused Sheffield Council of ‘threatening and intimidating’ thousands of staff over changes to their terms and conditions.

Julie Toner, director of resources at the authority, has sent a letter to workers asking them to accept changes including a freeze in incremental pay rises.

But she warns staff who fail to sign and return an agreement by today that they would have their contracts terminated.

The letter has been sent out to staff represented by trade unions, whose representatives have failed to agree to the changes.

Trade unions Unison, GMB and Unite represent around half of the 7,000 non-teaching staff at Sheffield Council, and their leadership oppose cuts to working conditions.

A Unison spokesman said: “We are disgusted and appalled at the tone of the recent letter sent out by Sheffield Council to employees, threatening and intimidating them to sign up for yet another year’s increment freeze.

“Unison advises all members to disregard this bullying letter and do not sign. We shall be seeking legal advice as we feel this is totally unacceptable and bad practice by Sheffield Council.”

Sheffield Council chief executive John Mothersole said: “This is not a position that any of us want to be in but the council is fighting hard to maintain good quality services for the people of Sheffield and the employment of people to deliver those services.

“If we don’t implement these proposals, the cost of the increments would be in the region of £5 million which is money that would have to come from elsewhere in our budget.

“It would mean more job losses or cuts to services.”

He added: “This letter is part of the process in changing staff’s terms and conditions and our relationship with the trade unions representing workers remains cordial.”

In her letter to staff, Ms Toner said: “Please sign the attached copy of acceptance form and return by February 15.

“If you do not sign, we propose to send you a further letter that will serve you with notice of termination of employment.”

Ms Toner invited staff who do not want to sign to have a consultation meeting with their line managers to ‘clarify any points of concern and consider any issues or queries’.