CITY council workers will today be urged to reject a pay deal that could end six months of industrial action in Southampton.
One of two main unions, Unite, will recommend its members reject a proposal that could settle the bitter row over staff pay cuts brought in under threat of dismissal in July. It brought three months of strike chaos to the city. Work-to rule action is ongoing.
Unite regional officer Ian Woodland said the proposal was “unacceptable” as it would set aside a £12m legal claim that the council’s failed to fully consult over it dismissal plans.
The larger Unison union said the proposal was the best it could negotiate but is not urging its members to vote either way.
The proposal will be presented to up to 2,400 union members at a series of joint Unison and Unite meetings at Above Bar Church and the Civic Centre. They will then make up their own minds in a secret postal ballot beginning on Friday.
Unions will also the discuss Tory-run council budget plans, which would see 217 more jobs axed next year.
Council and union leaders agreed the basis for the negotiated settlement to reverse some of the pay cuts imposed on thousands of staff during peace talks three weeks ago.
Council leader Cllr Royston Smith has since accused Unite leaders of breaking an agreement that they would recommend the proposal to members. Mr Woodland denied there was any such agreement.
The proposal would see half of the council workforce – those earning under £22,000 including the majority bin men - lifted out of pay cuts of between two and 5.5 per cent forced on council staff earnings over £17,500. Others would have some of the pay cuts restored.
The council maintains the pay cuts will protect 400 jobs as it seeks to save £75m over four years following Government funding cuts.
Meanwhile more talks were due to be held today between unions and the Government over increased pension contributions by public sector workers. Unions have threatened a nationwide strike on November 30.