Gwynedd Council staff’s pay sacrifice to be restored after 8 years
A trade union has welcomed plans to restore a day and a half’s pay for Gwynedd Council staff, eight years after workers accepted the cut to stave off further job losses.
In 2012, during the early days of a decade of local authority funding cuts, council staff were asked to accept a package which was the equivalent to them giving up a day and a half unpaid to the authority every year.
At the time, the sacrifice was proposed in a bid to protect services and minimise the number of redundancies.
It affected all staff except those employed under teachers terms and conditions (including head teachers and supply teachers), and those employed by GWE, the School Effectiveness and Improvement Service for North Wales, for whom Gwynedd act as the lead administrator rather than the employer.
But eight years on, following a better than expected financial settlement from Cardiff Bay, decision makers are proposing to restore the status quo from April 2020.
Costing £380,000, the proposal to be approved when the authority sets its budget for 2020/21 next month – which also contains £1m of mainly austerity cuts with ratepayers also expected to pay an extra 3.9% in their council tax bills from April.
A report that was approved by the council’s cabinet on Tuesday, noted: “The salary deduction was reduced from a day and a half to one day in 2018.
“At that time, the Council was committed to removing the one remaining day as soon as practically possible.
“In the context of the Council’s grant settlement for 2020/21 which is better than expected, we believe that there is an opportunity this year to remove the one remaining day.
“Although the grant settlement is counterbalanced by additional costs, the position is more favourable than in any year since 2008.
“A budget provision of £380k will enable us to give back the day’s pay to the Council’s staff, i.e. remove the current salary deduction from April 2020 onwards.”
Welcoming the proposal, the county’s Unison branch – the UK’s largest union which largely represents public workers – described the move as the result of discussions going back several years.
But despite this, officials were keen to stress that staff cuts had not been staved off completely, with Gwynedd’s headcount having been slashed by 459, from 6,954 to 6,495 between 2010 and 2018.
Osian Richards, UNISON Gwynedd’s branch chair said: “We are sure that all workers from school cooks and librarians, to refuse workers and highways maintenance staff will be pleased with this development.
“Council staff made a sacrifice to their pay and demonstrated their commitment to maintaining vital services for the communities they serve.
“Local government is in crisis. Welsh councils have been starved of funds by ten years of Westminster spending cuts and they don’t have enough money to invest in the public services we need.”
“Since 2010, Gwynedd Council staff, like all local government workers, have endured years of pay freezes and have lost the equivalent to 7 per cent of the workforce.
“The demand for public services is still there and council staff are working harder than ever before with fewer resources.
“If you want quality public services for the people of Gwynedd, it can’t be done ‘on the cheap’. UNISON is calling for an end to austerity and for all local authority staff to be paid fairly.”
The final budget proposals will be discussed when Gwynedd’s full council meets on March 5.
By Gareth Williams – Local Democracy Reporter
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