Gateshead Council reaches equal pay deal

Gateshead Council has avoided the prospect of industrial action after unions voted to accept its equal pay deal.

The deal is the council’s first step in implementing the government’s single-status agreement, which requires all local authorities to harmonise pay and conditions for comparable posts.

Members of the GMB union and Unison voted 75% in favour of the deal, which covered about 4,000 council workers at the bottom end of its pay scale.

Workers such as refuse collectors, street cleaners and gardeners have been moved on to a new pay structure.

Jan Parkinson, the council’s strategic director of HR, said the deal was the result of “mature” relationships with its unions.

“There have been some very difficult negotiations as the risk to the council was millions of pounds worth of payouts to employees,” she told Personnel Today.

Some workers will lose up to £3,800 as part of the deal, according to Parkinson. The council is concentrating on upskilling those employees to help minimise their financial losses in the long term, she said.

Implementing the single-status agreement is creating headaches for councils across the UK.

Last week, Edinburgh City Council said it was considering selling off its commercial property arm to help fund its multi-million pound equal pay bill.

The council needs to find £25m for back pay, as well as an extra £4m for its wage bill, after a deal was agreed to introduce equal pay.

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