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Blitz on pay saves taxpayers £1.3m
A CULL on terms and conditions for council workers in Worcestershire has saved taxpayers £1.3 million, it has emerged.
An attack on sick pay and reductions in working hours for county council employees is paying off, according to the authority’s Conservative leadership.
Staff agreeing to take three days’ unpaid leave a year has saved £400,000 and £300,000 has been clawed back by withholding sick pay for people off work for three days or less.
Another £300,000 has been shaved off the wage bill by appointing all new recruits on 35 hours a week instead of 37. And £300,000 has been saved by inviting workers to “purchase” extra annual leave at an agreed daily rate.
The county council managed to get agreement for the changes from Unison last year, despite representatives saying it was an “attack” on terms and conditions.
Early estimates suggest the measures will save about £2 million by the end of the financial year.
Councillor Adrian Hardman, county council leader, said: “I know these changes were controversial at the time, but the trade unions did take a pragmatic approach to it.
“What it has done is release cash that we can spend on frontline services, so it has made a difference.
“It was a very helpful manoeuvre for this council.”
At the time of the changes, bosses also decided to reduce the mileage rates available to employees, so workers with more environmentally-friendly cars got the best deals.
Early indications suggest that particular measure will save up to £500,000 by next April, in addition to the £2 million.
Jim Price, secretary of Worcestershire’s Unison branch, said: “There was quite a lot of discontent and resignation at the time but many members felt if they didn’t agree to it, it would be imposed on them.
“Many workers go beyond their hours and to some extent, the council has been relying on a lot of goodwill.
“Demands on our services have not reduced. If you look at areas like social care the staff simply can’t clock on and off just like that.”