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City chiefs say they will work to avoid all-out strike
Union bosses and city chiefs are locked in crisis talks to avoid a showdown over a pay dispute.
UNISON members have unanimously rejected a pay deal from Brighton and Hove City Council.
The plan to overhaul the council’s system of allowances and expenses was unveiled in January. But after months of negotiations, representatives of Unison have agreed to reject the final offer to staff. This is despite 87% of those affected seeing no change to their take home pay.
But union representatives claim that the plans, which affect about 6,000 workers at the council, will see up to 200 of their members lose out.
Among them are part-time environmental officers, who receive extra-payments for working unsociable hours, and cooks in the residential care teams.
City hall bosses said a complex pay system was formed when three separate authorities were merged to create Brighton and Hove City Council in 1997.
This had been further complicated with a number of services, such as refuse and recycling, being brought back in-house from private firms. In the final offer most will be unaffected while some, such as frontline care staff, will see an increase in pay.
A deal was struck with Cityclean staff last month after a week-long strike. But there are still some issues to resolve.
A council spokeswoman said about 3% of staff will see some loss of pay for which they will be offered financial compensation.
Alex Knutsen, Unison branch secretary, said: “During negotiations, both sides strove to reach a fair and equitable solution on a wide range of issues, achieving 90% of these objectives.
“Over the next few days a decision will be taken on what action should be taken.
“At this point, I cannot rule out industrial action and I call on the council to meet with us to negotiate on these areas to an acceptable conclusion for all parties. This should not be beyond us.”
Mark Turner, of the GMB, said: “We’re proposing to meet Unison in the coming days to discuss a joint response of what action we will take next.”
Penny Thompson, the council’s chief executive, said: “I am of course disappointed that Unison have rejected the current offer.
“We will continue to work with our union colleagues to ensure we can move forward with the progress made so far.”
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