A public sector pay dispute affecting thousands of workers has split a political party.

About 6,000 staff at Brighton and Hove City Council are affected by the local authority’s plan to revamp its system of allowances.

As town hall bosses draw up their final offer, unions claim current plans mean the majority of workers will be no worse off but about 1,000 are set to lose up to £4,000 a year.

The Argus can reveal that at least two of the city’s 22 Green councillors have said they do not support the current plans.

It comes as city MPs called for compensation for the lowest paid staff losing out.

Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, said: “While I understand the council is in a difficult position owing to this government’s devastating cuts and the failure of previous administrations to address inequality between male and female workers, we should be fighting hard to protect all our council workers who are facing the harsh reality of rising living costs and cuts to services.”

Politicians handed over talks on overtime and allowance payments to officers in January.

Since then, a series of meetings have been held but unions claim the local authority has not budged from its starting position.

Union representatives said that if no movement is made then industrial action is inevitable.

Councillors concerns

Mark Turner, the branch secretary of the GMB, said: “Caroline Lucas is clearly being Humpty Dumpty and sitting on the fence.

“Will she support the Green minority administration imposing amended contractual conditions, as that’s what it will come down to?”

A number of Green councillors have expressed their concerns at the current offer.

However, in emails, the council’s chief executive Penny Thompson said the final plan would not be brought back to members.

Ben Duncan, who represents Queen’s Park, told The Argus: “I do not support any reduction in the pay or conditions of any council staff.”

Hove MP Mike Weatherley said: “While standardisation of pay across the council does seems sensible, I am sure that this can be done in a way that is negotiated with staff and that will not radically alter what is paid to workers.”

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