Unions reject Southampton City Council’s proposals

Union members have rejected Southampton City Council’s latest proposals in a long-running dispute over worker pay.

One of the proposals tabled by the authority was to limit wage cuts to those earning more than £22,000.

Unison members voted to reject the plans by 389 votes to 340. Among Unite members, 53 accepted and 266 rejected them.

Union stewards will be meeting in early December to consider what further action to take.

Unison branch secretary Mike Tucker said: “The Conservative controlled council is at war with its workforce as they continue to make them pay for a crisis we did not create.”

Earlier this year, new contracts forced council workers earning more than £17,500 to take a pay cut of up to 5.5%.

Under the revised plans, those earning the full-time equivalent of up to £22,000 would not receive a pay cut but those on higher grades would have their pay reduced by between 3.2% and 5%.

‘More redundancies’

Other conditions would also be imposed on all staff including a three year pay freeze.

Council leader Royston Smith said: “The improved and final offer made by the council would have protected more than half of the organisation from direct pay cuts while protecting services by keeping our staff employed.

“The alternative is hundreds more redundancies which in turn will have a major impact on the services that our customers rely on.

“The reality is that we have to find savings of more than £76 million and we cannot afford to maintain the status quo.”

Southampton council workers, including refuse collectors, parking enforcement officers, toll bridge collectors and social care staff, have been taking strike action since May.

The unions had suspended the action while the new proposals were put to a secret ballot.

The Conservative-run city council finalised budget cuts of £25m in February and said the cuts were being made to protect jobs.