Council staff benefits cuts to save Wolverhampton £1.5m
Cutting hours, removing sick pay and reducing expenses for council staff in Wolverhampton will save the authority £1.5million a year it has emerged.
The terms and conditions of all council staff are being changed as the cash-strapped local authority looks to claw back £123m.
A prominent opposition councillor called the saving a 'drop in the ocean'.
Union bosses and finance chiefs are locked in talks in a bid to finalise the contract details, which are due to come into force from next April, affecting around 4,000 staff.
As previously revealed by council chief executive Simon Warren, contracts for staff will be reduced from 37 hours a week to 35 under the plans.
Staff won't be paid for their first day off work sick, pay rises will be frozen and mileage for employees using their cars on council business could be cut from 45p to 25p.
However the initial proposal as put forward in the council's savings programme suggest these changes will only come into force for two years – from 2015 to 2017 – saving the council £5.7m.
Then in 2017 contracts would be changed back to their original terms and conditions, meaning the council would spend £3.8m in 2017/18 and £500,000 in 2018/19, making an overall saving of just £1.5m.
Tory councillor Wendy Thompson said she was concerned at the proposal.
"At the end of it all £1.5m in a revenue budget of something like £256m is just a drop in the ocean," she said.
"The staff are being asked to do extra and it's just not right.
"I'm not sure we'll be getting the same quality of service in the future, which I find utterly deplorable."
Around 2,000 are expected to lose their jobs as the council makes crippling cuts to its services.
Adrian Turner, branch secretary of the Wolverhampton Unison branch, said the union and the council were unlikely to agree terms on council contracts.
Of the two-year changes to contracts he added: "Two years is too years too long.
"Some of the things proposed are not acceptable and people earning less money is one of them."
He said discussions were ongoing between now and the end of the year.
The terms and conditions savings proposals were announced in February, when staff were summoned to Wolverhampton Civic Hall to hear their fate.
Council spokesman Tim Clark stressed that the proposals were very much at the initial stage and nothing had been finalised.
"These proposals are subject to negotiation with the trade unions and that process is currently taking place," he added.
"We can't speculate on the level of savings that could be achieved before the results of those negotiations are known."
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