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Dispute Looms At Birmingham City Council Over Cuts

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

GMB Ready To Ballot 7,000 Members If Birmingham City Council Seeks To Impose Changes To Terms And Conditions As Part Of Spending Cuts

Labour led Birmingham should defend the nationally agreed terms and conditions of employment for their loyal staff in the council and in schools says GMB.

GMB, the union for public services, is consulting nearly 7,000 members in Birmingham City Council over proposed changes to terms and conditions of employment which if approved by the Council would be introduced from 01 January 2018.

GMB is advising members that it is prepared to challenge the Council on these proposals. GMB is ready to ballot members for industrial action if the Council gives notice that it will try to force through these changes without agreement.

Birmingham City Council are currently consulting staff on to changes to the contracts of all council staff following the announcement in December 2015 of the intention to withdraw from national agreements and set their own reduced terms and conditions. The proposed changes will also apply to schools staff working in Birmingham community schools, maintained nurseries, voluntary controlled schools and also in house construction arm Acivico. See notes to editors for a copy of previous GMB press release dated 9th December 2015.

Birmingham City Council has now circulated a consultation document which contains proposed changes to terms and conditions. The main proposed changes are as follows:

  • ·Sickness Absence: To reduce occupational sick pay to 3 months full pay and 3 months half pay. To cease paying employees for the first 3 days of each period of sickness absence in line with statutory sick pay. Workforce will receive nil pay for the first 3 days of sickness absence
  • Incremental Progression: To freeze the payment of performance related increments for the next 3 years. From 2017/18 employees will not receive performance related increments for 3 years.
  • Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Update Service: The proposal is to introduce the DBS update service. Users of the service pay a small annual subscription of £13.00 to keep their DBS certificate up to date to allow them to take this from role to role, within the same workforce, where the same type and level of check is required. Employees will not be reimbursed for this cost.
  • JNC Officers: A review of JNC pay and grading.
  • Change to Contractual Hours: Employees annual salary is based on 37 hours per week but full time contractual hours are 36.5. Proposal is to increase the standard working week to 37 hours. This means that part time workers hourly rate will slightly decrease except for employees in grade 1 who are paid a living wage of £7.85 per hour.

Gillian Whittaker, GMB Regional Officer, said “GMB has categorically insisted that the Council should not be proposing changes to nationally agreed terms and conditions for local council and school staff. These cover sick pay entitlements and other terms and conditions.

GMB is currently consulting members on the changes. GMB is advising members that it is prepared to challenge the Council on these proposals. GMB is ready to ballot members for industrial action if the Council gives notice that it will try to force through these changes without agreement.

Birmingham is a Labour led council. GMB considers that it goes against Labour principles to try to force through these changes.

It is clear that the majority of schools Head Teachers are also opposed to these changes.

Labour led Birmingham should defend the nationally agreed terms and conditions for their loyal staff.”

End

Contact: Gillian Whittaker 07850 768351 or Stuart Richards 07957 265 774 or Joe Morgan 07794 247 960 or Sam Jones on 07939 874 272 or Stephanie Peacock on 07841 763521 or GMB press office 07974 251823 or 07921 289880.

Notes to editors

1 The full list of proposals to changes to terms and conditions are as follows: 

  • Change to Contractual Hours: Employees annual salary is based on 37 hours per week. However, employees full time contractual hours are 36.5. Proposal is therefore to increase the standard working week to 37 hours in line with the majority of other Local Authorities. Effect on workforce - part time workers hourly rate will slightly decrease. However, employees in grade1 are paid The Living Wage which is £7.85 per hour.
  • Sickness Absence: To cease paying employees for the first 3 days of each period of sickness absence. This is compliant with statutory sick pay. Many local authorities have already adopted this approach. Workforce will receive nil pay for the first 3 days of sickness absence. To reduce occupational sick pay to 3 months full pay and 3 months half pay.
  • Incremental Progression: To freeze the payment of performance related increments for the next 3 years. From 2017/18 employees will not receive performance related increments for 3 years.
  • Subsistence Allowance: Proposal to remove subsistence allowance for those employees away on business. To include:-
  • Standby payments: The proposal is to have one standard standby payment of £27.35 per session and to remove the enhancement for first and second day standby payments as we are a 24/7 service. Employees will receive a single standardised standby payment per session.
  • Flexi Schemes: The proposal is to review the flexi schemes which are in place across the Council to enable increased productivity and re-aligned with an agile workforce. Increased productivity and an alignment with an agile workforce.
  • DBS Update Service: The proposal is to introduce the DBS update service. Users of the service pay a small annual subscription of £13.00 to keep their DBS certificate up to date to allow them to take this from role to role, within the same workforce, where the same type and level of check is required. Employees will not be reimbursed for this cost.
  • JNC Officers: A review of JNC pay and grading.
  • Cityserve: Cityserve is the Council’s in-house provider of cleaning and catering services to schools. The proposal at this stage is that Cityserve will continue to deliver the savings identified by the 2013.
  • Service Review process and included in the Long Term Financial Plan and develop a new operating model that will allow the Council to focus on its core Education responsibilities. Cityserve is also embarking upon a new future operating model that requires a review of terms and conditions to ensure that there is a 'Business fit' for the aims and objectives in the future delivery model.

2 Copy of previous GMB press release Wednesday 9th December 2015

1,200 Job To Go With Cuts To Terms And Conditions In Birmingham City Council Heaps Full Burden Of Tory Budget Cuts On Workers

This is not the way to cope with this funding crisis and we will continue to fight for our members working across the council says GMB

GMB and the Joint Trade Unions were formally notified today of plans by Birmingham City Council to reduce the workforce by a further 1,200 over the 2016/17. In addition to the proposed job losses, the proposals also include significant changes to council services and major reductions in the terms and conditions of employment.

Gill Whittaker, GMB Organisers, said, "Through job losses, pay freezes and changes to other terms and conditions workers have borne the brunt of the Government's cuts to local authority funding.  

Despite this GMB has so far continued to try and work constructively with the council and members have continued to try and provide decent public services.

However, this can't carry on. The majority of savings generated from the council's proposals come at the expense of ordinary council workers. Again, this is either through further job losses, outsourcing, reductions in pay or attacks on sick pay.

We will continue to negotiate on behalf of our members through the consultation period, but our message is clear. GMB members deliver the essential council services for Birmingham residents and they deserve better than this."

Stuart Richards, GMB Senior Organiser, said. "As a union representing workers across the public sector we are fully aware that the council is forced to deal with the Tory Government's 'slash and burn' approach to public sector funding.

The council is now proposing to remove workers from national agreements and to attack what's left of their terms and conditions. This is not the way to cope with this funding crisis and GMB will continue to fight for our members working across the council."

End

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