Public sector staff are set to protest against an “attack” on their wages.

Brighton and Hove City Council wants to overhaul the special allowances paid to three-quarters of its 8,000-strong workforce.

Local authority bosses claim the current system of extra payments, which affects 6,000 staff, is “no longer fit for purpose”.

But union representatives blasted the reform, claiming it was intended to reduce the pay bill at a time of Government cuts.

They claim that low-paid workers, such as binmen, care workers, security guards and school staff, will be left worse off from the reforms.

Before politicians on the council’s influential policy and resources committee hand over responsibility for the issue to senior officers, staff will protest outside Hove Town Hall today about the changes.

A statement from union representatives to staff said: “We elect councillors on their promise to represent us in every decision that affects our welfare, our career and our city.

“These councillors cannot delegate their responsibilities to appointed council management, who are not elected by any of us, to decide and then manage a policy they have concocted.”

Simplify system

After months of behind-the-scenes discussions, the council will draw up exact plans to simplify its pay system in the coming weeks.

It has set itself a negotiating deadline of March.

If this is not met, council bosses will take “all necessary steps” to complete the reform by October.

This could include forcing through changes without the consent of workers or unions.

'Cloak and dagger'

Penny Thompson, the council’s chief executive, said: “We’re communicating with staff and entering into negotiations with the unions about how we work towards a clear and consistent pay structure across the whole organisation.”

The Argus understands only those officers not directly involved in the issue and councillors not serving on the committee will be asked to leave when the item is discussed behind closed doors today.

Mark Turner, of the GMB union, said he believed this breached the council’s constitution.

He added: “If this is correct, then it is cloak and dagger sort of stuff.”

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