Page last updated at 11:46 GMT, Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Dismissal threat over council pay

Street sweeper
Street cleaners are among those facing a pay cut

Thousands of council workers in Sheffield could have their contracts terminated after they failed to accept new terms and conditions.

Letters were sent to 13,500 workers asking them to accept the new terms, which would mean pay rises for some but a pay cut for more than 2,000 staff.

The council said it had received 8,700 signed agreements by lunchtime on Monday. The deadline was Monday night.

Contracts for the remaining staff will be terminated and new ones offered.

A council spokesman said despite the deadline it was still accepting signed agreements "and would continue to do so".

The new pay structure is due to be implemented in April.

We believe that what is being offered to employees is fairer and more transparent than the current system
John Mothersole
council chief executive

The council said it was required to review its pay structure in line with local authorities across the country.

Street cleaners, gardeners and teaching support staff are among the workers who will see their wages drop as part of the review.

The council said more than 80% of staff would have the same or higher salary.

Kevin Osborne, from the Unison union, said: "This is just not an acceptable package. It never was an acceptable package."

He said the union was consulting lawyers to see if it could pursue the council for unfair dismissal on behalf of members who have their contracts terminated.

An "indicative ballot" of members is also taking place to establish which parts of the workforce were likely to be in favour of strike action.

Workers 'fearful'

Mr Osborne said members felt they were being forced into accepting the new terms after receiving a letter from the council's chief executive John Mothersole last week, reminding them of the deadline.

Mr Osborne said: "[They are] fearful of course of what's been said in the letters by the council in terms of dismissal and re-engagement if you don't volunteer to sign."

But Mr Mothersole said: "To suggest that the council is bullying its employees is simply nonsense.

"It is true that if colleagues choose not to accept their offer then we will have to terminate their contracts and re-engage with them.

"This has always been the case. Nobody will have to reapply for their job nor will they lose continuity of service.

"This is both standard practice and a legal requirement, to suggest that we are doing anything out of the ordinary and bullying colleagues is clearly untrue.

"We believe that what is being offered to employees is fairer and more transparent than the current system."



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SEE ALSO
Council sends out review letters
09 Oct 09 |  South Yorkshire
Union in legal move on pay review
04 Feb 09 |  South Yorkshire

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