Council moves a step closer to fairer pay

Statutory consultation on proposals to implement fairer modern pay arrangements for staff at the City of Edinburgh Council began with the trade unions yesterday (Tuesday, 5 January).

The 'Modernising Pay' proposals meet equalities legislation, reducing future financial risks and costs in equal pay settlements. The Council has already spent £33 million on equal pay settlements.

The proposals are also intended to secure fairer pay arrangements for all staff. The new arrangements will add £10.5m to the Council's pay bill in the first year.

During the statutory 90 day consultation period more talks will be held with the trade unions (Unite, Unison and GMB), who have not accepted the proposals at this stage. The consultation may last longer than 90 days to ensure that the talks explore all of the options.

Jim Inch, Director of Corporate Services: "More than 80 official meetings have been held with the trade unions over a lengthy time period and significant concessions have been made. The trade unions have, however, informed us that they cannot support the final package. This is extremely disappointing.The only alternative to agreed changes to terms and conditions is imposing changes through this legal process, which many other councils have done."

Councillor Phil Wheeler, Convener of the Finances and Resources Committee, said: "The Council must provide a fair, appropriate, flexible and affordable pay system for all staff. This will help to attract and retain good staff which will benefit taxpayers whilst also avoiding expensive and unnecessary legal action.

"The Administration's door remains open for the unions to meet us for further discussions. I hope they will take up this offer."

The next steps

Towards the end of the 90 day consultation period, if an agreement has not been reached with the unions - staff will be offered the opportunity to voluntarily agree to change their contract.

If agreement cannot be reached with the unions, and staff do not volunteer to sign up to the changes, they will be given a 90 day notice of termination of their existing contract with an immediate offer of re-engagement of a new contract.

If staff choose not to accept the offer of re-engagement their employment will end at the conclusion of the 90 day notice period.

By using the statutory process of dismissal and immediate re-engagement continuity of service and any employment rights associated with continuous service would be preserved.  

This process is not unusual and has been carried out in many other councils.

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