The local government union Unison says today's proposals have left council restructuring no further forward and that the uncertainty is leaving workers demoralised and fearful for their futures.
Mr MacAskill warned that further delays will exacerbate the damage being done to services as a result of austerity. He called for council mergers to go ahead as a matter of urgency, as local services could not continue to operate "under a shadow of doubt and indecision".
Unison, one of the unions that recently agreed a Welsh NHS pay deal, is opposing the £10,000 increase proposed by the AMs' pay review body. The union reluctantly accepted that Welsh Government couldn't afford a 1% increase recommended for health workers this year.
Dawn Bowden,the Head of Health at Unison Cymru Wales says the union would have preferred a UK wide settlement. She added that this was the first year that governments in different parts of the UK have taken different positions from each other.She said that this wasn't an ideal situation.
Welsh NHS staff are being given details of an improved pay offer that's led Unison to call off a half-day strike planned for Monday. It includes a £187 lump sum and a commitment by the Welsh Government to a 1% pay increase next April, in addition to any increments. The full offer is as follows:
- £187 (An increase on the £160 previously offered)
- A 1% rise from next April, on top of any annual increment
- All workers to receive at least the living wage of £7.85 an hour from January. The recent increase in the living wage means that this will now benefit 4,500 people, who will get a rise of between 2.5% and 5%
Unison is not actually recommending the deal to its members but is telling them that it's the best that can be achieved through negotiation. It's a two year deal, with pay strategy from 2016 onwards looked at by an NHS Wales Workforce Commission.
The union says it makes its pay claims for the UK as a whole but as health is devolved, different outcomes are always possible. This year a pay review recommended a 1% rise. This was accepted by the Scottish Government but the UK government said that it would not pay it in England to workers getting an annual increment.
The Welsh Government is not releasing details of the improved pay deal that it's offered NHS staff. The offer has led to Unison calling off a half-day strike planned for Monday. ITV News understands that the proposal the union will put to its members involves a slightly bigger payment than the £160 previously offered to all Welsh NHS staff apart from doctors, dentists and senior managers.
A new pay offer to NHS workers from the Welsh Government means that the Unison union has called off a half-day strike planned for next Monday. The details of the improved offer have not been released but it means that industrial action, due to hit the English NHS later this month, may be avoided in Wales.
The dispute began when the UK Government rejected a pay review recommendation of a 1% increase and the Welsh government decided that it couldn't afford to pay the rise either. Instead it offered a one-off payment of £160 to all Welsh NHS staff apart from doctors, dentists and senior managers. The 2,400 lowest paid workers got more -up to £470, as a result of a commitment to at least pay the living wage.
Unison rejected that offer and called a strike ballot, 77% of the members who took part voted in favour. The union argued that the workforce could not be expected to plug the funding gap in the Welsh NHS.
Unions have traditionally been reluctant to see an end to pay being set on a UK-wide or England-and-Wales basis. But today's announcement from Unison, comes after the Fire Brigades Union in Wales called off a strike over its pensions dispute. The Welsh Government has offered to consult on a possible solution. Firefighters still walked out in England, where the union felt the government was not willing to compromise.
Unison, the union which represents many local council workers, has broadly welcomed the Williams Commission report and it's call for a series of mergers that would halve the number of county and county borough councils in Wales.
The union says that it will study the recommendations and their impact on public sector workers throughout Wales.
UNISON members from across South Wales plan to demonstrate today against jobs cuts being proposed by the Cardiff and Vale health board.
A petition will be delivered to the National Assembly for Wales as part of the campaign to protect jobs and services says the union.
The board is aiming to reduce staff by 380 by next March.
The Chief Executive of Cardiff and Vale University Health Board says fewer than 40 staff are at risk of compulsory redundancy.
Mike Jones of UNISON said, "We know the Welsh government has aimed to work in partnership with the unions and the NHS around these budget pressures and we applaud them for that. Unfortunately Cardiff and Vale has decided to go their own way - that is frustrating and demoralising.**
"In our view, cutting jobs flies in the face of the staffing issues raised in the Francis report. We know that staffing levels are key to the sustainability of good quality safe services and there are certain clinical areas being considered that lead us to have serious concerns," he said.**