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Birmingham's Single Status Motion about Pay and Grading

The following motion was passed yesterday by Birmingham City Council.

This Council wishes to thank its employees for their hard work and effort that have lead to the Council making progress in returning to its rightful, traditional position as the best run local authority in Western Europe.

The Council regrets that a situation was allowed to develop over many years where the pay and grading structure of the Council was not in accordance with Equal Pay Legislation and the "Single Status Agreement” with the trades unions. The Council notes that a number of legal actions were initiated against the Council in June 2006 which gave urgency in reviewing the pay and grading structure of the Council to ensure that it operated in accordance with the law.

The Council regrets that the review has resulted in a situation in which a number of members of staff who have been doing an efficient and high quality job now face the threat of pay reductions from 1st April 2010 as a consequence of needing to have a pay structure that satisfies legal requirements. The Council is concerned about those people and the adverse effect on morale which can result from having to take this action.

The Council supports the Executive in its concern to produce a pay structure which reduces inequalities amongst its employees, drives up performance and benefits all tax payers and service users. The Council endorses the efforts the Executive has made to balance different priorites and protect, as far as it can, the impact the new structure has on individuals.

The Council recognises the challenge in restructuring pay and grading across the Council and that this will have resulted in some anomalies as a result of the magnitude of the task and the speed at which it needed to be done. The Council, therefore, is pleased that all people facing pay cuts will have the opportunity to appeal against the grading decision and calls for the Executive to consider prioritising the appeals of those people facing the larger pay cuts.

The Council notes that the Executive is looking at those people facing particular difficulties to identify whether or not it may be possible to redesign particular jobs so that the difficulties faced by the employees is lessened. The Council also notes that the Executive will be establishing criteria through which employees will have the opportunity to progress up through the grading structure.

The Council recognises that scrutiny has already played an important role in ensuring openness and accountability in the process to date and welcomes the approval by the Cabinet Member for Equalities and Human Resources in his positive engagement of scrutiny to add value to the whole process. The Council notes that both the Human Resources and Equalities Sub-Committee and the Co-ordinating Overview and Scrutiny Committee have already and will continue to monitor the process.

The job evaluation bringing about this effects is as a result in part of the agreement pushed through by the Labour Government in 1997 known as the Single Status Agreement made with the trades unions. When the NHS carried out a similar exercise the Government provided billions of pounds to help with through Agenda for Change. The government has refused to match that commitment for the Local Government Single Status Agreement.

The Council calls upon the Government to provide at least matching support to Local Authorities to effect the Single Status Agreement as was done for the NHS.

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