Local government wage offer may price out jobs

The latest local government pay offer will cost jobs, according to the HR
profession.

The Government offer of 3.5 per cent or £380, whichever is greater, has been
has been accepted by the T&G union, subject to agreement by its members.

Socpo
president Keith Handley believes the award will threaten jobs and lead to
outsourcing, which will affect services, particularly in authorities in the
North.

He said, "There is no doubt that northern authorities consider they
have had the worst of the grant, and there are real concerns about the impact
on jobs.

The un-funded element of the pay offer (above what councils had budgeted
for) will have to be found from the existing pay bill. That is bound to either
mean reductions in jobs and services or delayed recruitment and more pressure
on the workforce."

Alan Buttery, head of HR at Luton Borough Council, is also unhappy at the
size of the offer.

"We cannot afford it. It is pretty awful news which will cost jobs
across the country and lead to unfilled posts and restructuring," he said.

But Adrian Pritchard, personnel officer at Suffolk County Council, thinks
the offer is the best local government could hope for after teachers were
awarded a 3.7 per cent rise.

He said, "A number of local authorities will struggle to find the money
but the bottom-loading will help improve local government’s recruitment and
retention problems."

Councillor Brian Balwin, who helped to negotiate the new deal, said,
"The two alternatives – compulsory arbitration or an industrial ballot –
would have caused more problems."

Trade union the T&G described the pay offer as a "wise move by the
employers."

By Paul Nelson

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