North Norfolk council workers to be “sacked” - then rehired - as wages reviewed

A third of workers at North Norfolk District Council are facing a cut to their wages under new pay grades as the authority 'sacks' then re-hires its entire 325-strong workforce.

They will have their contracts terminated and then be immediately reissued with new ones to bring in the changes.

Many will be left with a reduced wage packet but 70 per cent of workers would see their salary go up or stay the same. Those unhappy with their new contract would not be offered an alternative position, but will be able to appeal.

The slash to salaries will save the council �200,000 a year but bosses said the review is a legal requirement and insisted it has not been driven by savings.

They said the drastic step of 'firing and rehiring' was not their 'preferred method' for bringing in the changes - which they have been pursuing for at least three years. But a stalemate with the Unison union had forced their arm.

Sheila Oxtoby, the council's deputy chief executive, explained the council was required to review wages under an agreement it has with the National Joint Council - the body which determines pay for local government workers - and many other authorities were doing the same.

These include Shropshire, which planned to dismiss all 6,500 employees and then rehire them as long as they agreed to a 5.4pc pay cut, and Birmingham City Council, which was going through a similar dismissal and re-engagement process when Shropshire announced its plans.

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Mrs Oxtoby said: 'Ultimately it's about making sure we're paying people a fair wage for the job they're doing. Since June last year we have been trying to reach an agreement with Unison; now unfortunately we have reached a stage whereby we can't get agreement.

'Therefore members have taken a decision that this needs to be moved on so we're looking at an alternative process, which would require us to re-engage all staff on new contracts.'

Unison has blasted the scheme saying it will result in 'too many losers'.

Andy Mitchell, officer for the North Norfolk branch, said: 'Nobody likes losing money in their salary and on top of everything else that's going on it's going to hit some people very hard. There's a degree of uncertainty and unhappiness in the way the council is approaching it, and the way it's treating its staff.'

But Keith Johnson, cabinet member for organisational development, said one of the reasons the changes were being pushed ahead was to put an end to the uncertainty, as it would not be fair to staff morale to prolong it.

He stressed jobs would not be lost and the review did not go against the new ruling Conservative party's manifesto of creating employment.

'If anything it will help protect the jobs within this organisation,' he added.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb was pleased the changes would not affect job numbers and said while wage cuts were 'very painful' he understood NNDC's need to complete the review, which was being done for good reason.

'My concern would be to ensure those people on lower pay are protected through these difficult times,' he added.

The council has launched a 90 day consultation - during which it still hopes to reach agreement with Unison - before the new pay scheme comes in some time next year.

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