Ipswich: Unison members accept new single status wage structure

Grafton House, the home of Ipswich Borough Council in Russell Road

Grafton House, the home of Ipswich Borough Council in Russell Road - Credit: Archant

Members of the largest union at Ipswich council have accepted radical changes to the authority’s wage structure which will leave many workers worse off.

Unison members voted in a ballot to accept the borough’s proposals to introduce a single wage structure for all staff – those who work in offices and those who work in other departments.

Ipswich is one of the last councils to introduce single status among staff – other authorities across the country have done so over fears that having separate structures for (mainly female) clerical staff and (mainly male) manual staff could lead to sex discrimination claims.

While there is little change to the authority’s wage bill, some staff – especially refuse collectors – are facing a wage reduction as a result of the changes which were first unveiled in August.However council leader David Ellesmere has insisted there are likely to be more winners than losers under the changes.

The borough’s human resources committee is due to discuss the implementation of the single status wage structure at its meeting tonight.

There had been fears that if Unison had rejected the proposal, this could result in the council dismissing all its staff and re-hiring them on new terms. That threat has now been lifted.

Mr Ellesmere said: “Unison members have accepted the changes, and that is by far the largest union at the borough.

“It means we can now work with them to implement the changes. We are still waiting for the result of the ballot among Unite members at the borough – but there is a much smaller number of them.”

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No one from the Unison was available to comment on the result of the ballot.

The decision by the Unison members across the 1,100 members of staff at the borough does not affect negotiations with refuse collectors about a proposed change to their working hours.

The council has offered about 40 members of staff in that department a £1,000 one-off bonus if they accept proposals to change from a five to a four-day week.

Those negotiations are complicated by the fact that the refuse collectors are one of the groups at the borough facing wage cuts as a result of the structural changes.

Mr Ellesmere said: “These are two unrelated issues, but it is understandable that the staff are seeing them very much together.”

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