Leeds City Council proposes renegotiating staff conditions

Leeds City Council is proposing changes to staff terms and conditions in a bid to cope with the impact of greatly reduced budgets over the past few years.

As budgets are worked out for the coming year, the council has seen its core funding reduced by 43% in real terms since 2010 and has done everything it can to make savings as efficiently as possible to reduce impact on key frontline services.

The council has been in talks with trade unions over a number of months about how to reduce employment costs while protecting key public services and jobs as far as possible, taking feedback from them into account.

Now formal proposals to change some local terms and conditions will be presented to councillors at the General Purposes Committee on July 29.

They include removal of some historical payment arrangements, introducing a redundancy policy and reducing spending on travel-related items, including mileage rates and car allowance payments.

Leeds City Council Chief Executive Tom Riordan said:

“Our absolute priorities as a council throughout these very difficult cuts of the past few years have been to protect frontline services for vulnerable people, manage our finances as efficiently as possible and to act responsibly as one of the city’s major employers.

“We have achieved all this to the best of our ability and will continue to do so. However the financial challenges facing us are so enormous that we have been talking to staff representatives again. We need to find workable solutions to ensure we can continue to deliver essential public services.

“While we have to consider negotiating some changes, we are doing everything we can to continue protecting jobs and services and are as committed as ever to avoiding compulsory redundancies if we can. We very much value the mature relationship we have with our unions and our staff and will continue to work with them to achieve the best possible outcomes.

“Although up till now we have not been able to reach an agreement with the trade unions on the best way to take forward our proposals, we are sympathetic to the fact that public sector workers have had little or no pay increase for over 5 years. The changes we are proposing will have minimal impact on take home pay for the vast majority of our staff. We believe this offers the best solution to enable us to continue to provide essential council services to the people of Leeds.”

Ways in which the council has achieved significant savings to its costs in the light of reducing budgets over the past few years:

• significantly reducing the number of senior manager posts by 22% since 2010;

• reducing agency spend;

• restricting recruitment;

• supporting staff wherever possible to leave the council through the voluntary Early Leaver Initiative (ELI). Over 2,000 staff have left since the scheme was launched, leading to a corresponding reduction in numbers of posts;

• a cost of living rise of just 1% for the majority of staff over the past four (with no increase for senior management);

• no cost of living rise for staff over the past three years (four years for senior management);

• developing more flexible roles/job descriptions (to reduce the need for recruitment / agency / overtime spend);

• actively promoting voluntary reductions in working hours/working weeks;

• ongoing work to further reduce sickness absence ;

• reviewing existing temporary payments and acting up arrangements.

Notes to editors:

A Section 188 notice was issued by Leeds City Council to its unions on 23 July 2013. The obligation to consult under Section 188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (TULRCA) applies where the employer is proposing to dismiss as redundant 20 or more employees at one establishment within a period of 90 days or less, or proposing to issue notices to terminate existing contracts of employment and immediately offering to engage staff new contracts. The duty is to consult with representatives of employees who may be affected by the proposed dismissals or may be affected by measures taken in connection with those dismissals. The formal notice to commence this kind of consultation is often referred to as a “section 188 notice”.

For media enquiries please contact:

Donna Cox, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3335

e-mail: donna.cox@leeds.gov.uk