More than 1,400 yet to agree Swansea Council Single Status terms
THOUSANDS of Swansea Council workers have signed up to the long-awaited Single Status scheme — but 1,400 remain undecided.
The council said Single Status would result in many lower-paid staff — particularly caterers and cleaners — receiving pay rises. Others, such as bin men and teaching staff currently paid retainers, will lose out.
Council chiefs are writing to the undecided contingent again to give them another chance to respond, and are also continuing negotiations with unions.
In another development, the Labour administration has confirmed the Living Wage, which is due to be implemented after Single Status takes effect, will be backdated to April this year.
That means a tidy sum awaits those workers who are currently paid less than the Living Wage’s £7.45 per hour rate.
Council chiefs have stressed they have made “substantial concessions” to unions, including protecting the pay of those set to lose out under Single Status for up to two years.
The union Unison, however, said the situation was more nuanced than that portrayed by the council and that it “was not a wonderful deal for many, many people”.
Referring to the second round of letters sent to 1,400 council staff, deputy council leader Christine Richards said: “I think it’s worth stressing that the last thing the council wants is to see a situation where members of staff feel they can’t respond.
“It’s taken more than a decade of discussions to get to this point and it’s disappointing that we were not able to reach a collective agreement with the unions.
“However, we are still in discussions with the unions and are working with them to resolve any issues where we can.”
She repeated that the pay protection measures for staff set to see a pay cut would use up £5million of the £32million Single Status implementation cost.
“We’ve gone the extra mile, we’ve made substantial concessions, protected pay for longer and are continuing to have meaningful discussions with the unions,” said the ward member for Lower Loughor.
“However, like all councils, Swansea has to introduce Single Status and have an equality-proofed pay structure for staff. We also need to bear in mind that many of them have been waiting years for this settlement.”
The Single Status proposals will be funded by money the council has squirrelled away in previous years.
Once implemented, the new wage structure is set to add a relatively small chunk onto the council’s current £303million annual salary bill, which eats up 40 per cent of its total expenditure.
The Living Wage element is set to add an extra £1millon per year from the time before implementation.
Single Status has sparked at times bitter debate although, judging by comments from Evening Post readers, there is consensus that care workers and caterers in particular deserved a raise.
Writing on our website www.southwales-eveningpost.co.uk, a reader named A8427 conceded there would be losers, but said: “I think the current offer is more than reasonable and the biggest worry for most has been avoided, namely redundancies.
“Compared to other local authorities I think we have done fairly well, with most people either gaining or remaining the same. I am glad to see the substantial increase in social care staff wages which is long overdue for the difficult and challenging work that they do in residential homes and in the community, well deserved!”