Staff at City of Edinburgh Council are “furious” after learning that their new salary rates are based on an average worked out from the previous year’s pay rather than contracted pay, union leaders have warned.
Under the Modernising Pay scheme – part of the single status initiative designed to address years of unequal pay in local government – staff at the council had been promised that pay would be protected for three years.
But it has now emerged that the protected salary is based on the total pay figure on last year’s P60. That means that those who took unpaid sick leave or voluntary leave in 2009/10 are now receiving a lower salary than expected.
Those affected so far are weekly paid staff, including refuse collectors, roadworkers and gardeners, but the full extent of the issue will only become apparent next week when monthly paid staff receive their payslips.
Unite and Unison, the joint trade unions, revealed that they have lodged a formal dispute with the council and will be consulting with their members to discuss next steps over the coming days.
Stephen MacGregor, convener of Unite in Edinburgh, said: “We are staggered that in the first week of pay after the imposition of Modernising Pay, the council has torn up the agreed approach to pay protection.”
Kevin Duguid, convener of Unison in Edinburgh, added: “Our members who have had their payslips are rightly furious and feel betrayed by the council.”
Philip Barr, head of HR at the council, told the Scotsman: “Before the new pay arrangements were introduced, staff bonus pay was always reduced as a result of sickness absence.
“That level of reduction is reflected in future pay protection. Internal talks are continuing regarding this issue and we hope to reach a resolution in the near future.”
In a separate development, local government minister Bob Neill has announced that 21 councils in England have been authorised to borrow up £250 million, collectively, to meet their equal pay obligations.