Pay rises for thousands of council workers in Wolverhampton today moved closer to reality after the scheme was given overwhelming backing.
Wolverhampton City Council’s Single Status scheme, which was drawn up to iron out decades of pay inequality between men and women, has been backed by Unison and GMB members who were balloted on the proposals.
Workers have voted in favour of the offer, which will see 83.8 per cent of staff either gain pay or stay on the same salary. Some staff, however, will see their pay reduced.
Under the changes, which were first announced last year, 5,423 staff are set to get a pay rise from next month and 1,242 staff will see their pay cut from April 2014.
Around 78 per cent of Unison members and 82 per cent of GMB members voted yes after both unions recommended the offer was supported. The council is also introducing the Living Wage of £7.45 an hour for its lowest paid staff – £1.26 an hour more than the national minimum.
Councillor Paul Sweet, Wolverhampton City Council’s cabinet member for human resources, said: “This announcement is the result of detailed negotiations with the trade unions to produce an offer which would be acceptable to their members, while at the same time creating a pay structure at the council which is fair to all.
“We feel that a collective agreement reflects the original intention of Single Status, which was always a partnership between the local authority employers and the trade unions.
“I would like to thank Unison and GMB for their active participation in this process. A project of this magnitude has inevitably not been easy and there are a minority of staff who face losing pay, and for them this is a very difficult time.
“Single Status is a legal requirement which obliges councils to address historical pay inequalities which have seen roles traditionally viewed as ‘male’ being paid more than those jobs viewed as traditionally ‘female’. Wolverhampton will implement its new pay structure and terms and conditions on April 1 and we can then all concentrate on moving forward to deal with the many other issues facing the city.”
Almost 9,400 council staff have had their roles evaluated as part of a review of the authority’s pay structure. Terms and conditions of employment have also been assessed and changes made to ensure fairness across the council. The unions had been threatening to strike over plans to scrap time-and-a-half and double-time pay for working unsociable hours, and bonuses for certain staff to use their cars.
However, the offer of the Living Wage was seen as a tipping point. The pay rises come as the council strives to make £60 million of cuts over the next five years.