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  1. ITV Report

Third of staff at Newcastle Council could have pay cut

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A third of staff at Newcastle City Council could have their pay cut - under plans to remove higher rates for weekend and night workers.

It will affect around 1800, some losing up to £3,800 a year. Unions have described it as 'a disgrace' - but the council says it has to save £30 million - and this will prevent 100 redundancies

In September the council announced it had to save £30m next year (£70m over the next three years).

The council say the terms and conditions staff currently receive were agreed in 2010 and that councils which settled later did not give their staff such generous terms and conditions. They say ending 'enhanced payments' and replacing them with a 'plain rate' would bring the council in line with what some other councils pay their staff.

The council say they will now enter into negotiations with the trade unions to try and reach an agreement.

Cllr Veronica Dunn, Cabinet Member for Resources said an agreement would help them preserve frontline services:

This is not something that we want to do at all. However, Government cuts mean we have to make massive savings to protect services and jobs.

Our pay bill is one of the biggest areas of spend which we have control over, and in light of the financial challenges we face, the time has now come to question if it is affordable.

We have a proud record of industrial relations and remain committed to negotiating with the trade unions. We want talks with them to consider how we might reduce our pay costs which were agreed at a time when we were not under the kind of pressure that we are now.

Negotiating an agreement will help us preserve frontline services and jobs. It will also bring the council in line with the private and voluntary sectors and some other councils in the region.

The Government has made it clear it wants all councils to be self-financing by 2020 which means we must become more competitive. Quite simply we will not be able to compete for new contracts if our pay bill is higher than that of our competitors. If we don’t become more commercially viable we will struggle to protect the most vulnerable.

I fully recognise this will be extremely unpopular among staff - but let me assure them that we remain committed to fair pay. Our recent decision to increase the Newcastle Living Wage to £8.25 per hour will give some protection to our lowest paid staff from the full effect of these changes.”

– Cllr Veronica Dunn, Cabinet Member for Resources