Management staff at Cambridgeshire County Council are despondent after hearing that they will receive a minimal pay rise this year. This comes after enduring a three year pay freeze which has seen their salaries decrease, in real terms, by as much as 17%.
News that staff on management band pay grades are to receive a less than 1% rise is derisory and does not reflect the contribution they make to Council business says UNISON Branch Secretary, Rob Turner.
Mr Turner continues, “Management band pay is set and agreed by the Council’s Strategic Management Team and approval is sought from the elected County Council members. UNISON has no formal involvement in this process but we say that all staff should receive the same increase. The council has budgeted for a 1% rise across all staff and it is only right that they should implement this for their managers. This situation is not new but is an issue that crops up every year. One way to resolve it would be to bring management band into national bargaining which would prevent the Council seeking to divide management and non-management staff in this way.”
Speaking about the future 3% pay cut which was announced recently by the Chief Executive Mark Lloyd and reported by the CEN on Friday September 13, Rob Turner says “your article is correct in that the Council is seeking to deliver a further 3% saving to staffing costs. We are involved in informal discussions but it appears clear that the leaders of the council want this saving delivered by introducing mandatory unpaid leave, reduced sickness benefits and a withdrawal from national pay bargaining. Withdrawal from national pay bargaining, strangely enough, will not deliver any savings at all - so the question of why Council leaders insist on this proposal needs to be asked? We also predict that there will be further cuts for all Council staff in future years and the picture is not very bright. We are consistently being told that what Council leaders want is a negotiated settlement to the current informal talks and we have put forward suggestions for equivalent savings, which would not see these cuts to employee’s terms and conditions, yet we are ignored. I believe there is a hidden agenda with the Council leaders seeking to deliver the same cuts as those that are currently being implemented in our Northamptonshire shared services council. I also believe that the Council, by not giving management the budgeted pay rise this year, are giving a clear indication of what all staff will face if we come out of national bargaining.”
Speaking about the comments made by Councillor Maurice Leeke in Fridays CEN about the ‘devastating’ effect on ‘staff morale’, Mr Turner stated that “morale is already at rock bottom and these cuts, which will drive our members further into poverty, will only serve as a driver for staff to seek work elsewhere. We are already the lowest paid employees in the public sector within Cambridgeshire. The City Council has implemented a Living Wage as a standard for City Council staff, where the County Council, which is supposed to be a leading Council, has over 800 of its staff being paid below the Living Wage.”
Pressed about staff leaving for work elsewhere Mr Turner said “an example would be of our hard working UNISON members in social care. Every County who borders Cambridgeshire pays their social workers more. Norfolk has recently announced a £16.5 million investment in their children’s services alone, yet our social workers are working under enormous pressure with staff shortages and increasing workloads. Cambridgeshire County Council seeks to resolve this problem by employing agency workers on salaries which are over double what they are willing to pay Council workers. Is it any wonder moral is low? Council leaders need to invest in and support their staff. These informal talks to cut wages and terms and conditions need to be ended and discussions need to start that will aim to deliver a committed and valued workforce.”