Pay freeze for council staff could lead to strike action
DERBYSHIRE councils have confirmed their staff face a pay freeze for a third year in a row.
But Unison is canvassing its members to decide if industrial action should be taken over the move.
The freeze was decided by the Local Government Association (LGA) earlier this year but councils were able to opt out.
Now Derby City Council and Derbyshire County Council have confirmed they intend to stick with the LGA's plan.
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This will affect 16,675 full-time and part-time staff at the county council and 4,620 at the city council.
Andy Freeman, Unison regional organiser in the East Midlands, said unions had "formally rejected" what the LGA had decided.
He said: "We are currently consulting with our Derbyshire members over whether we should take industrial action. That is ongoing.
"At a national level we have asked for binding arbitration from the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS)."
ACAS can decide what the result of the dispute should be but both the unions and LGA would have to agree with its decision for any changes to be made.
Jeanette Lloyd, Unison branch secretary at the county council, said the authority's freeze was "disappointing".
She said: "Taking inflation into account, it means employees are being paid about 10% less than they were 10 years ago."
Mrs Lloyd added that the freeze was particularly bad news for workers at the county council who saw their salaries drop as a result of a Government-enforced pay review in 2010.
The review was aimed at ironing out wage inequalities between mainly male jobs and mainly female jobs.
Those who saw their salary reduced had their pay protected for three years, meaning their wages are set to drop in March next year.
Mrs Lloyd said: "Their salary drop will be all the more serious for them because their pay has stayed the same for three years."
A county council spokeswoman said: "The decision to freeze pay is a national one and, although we can opt out, as some councils do, we chose not to and remain bound by national bargaining."
Laura Jones, strategic human resources manager for projects and employee relations at Derby City Council, said the authority's pay and conditions were also "negotiated by the national agreements".
She added that this meant the council was "unable to comment on how long the pay freeze would continue".
The LGA maintains that the pay freeze is needed because of rising costs and shrinking local government funding.