Union will ballot as council set to approve budget pay cut plans today

Doncaster Mayor Peter Davies
Doncaster Mayor Peter Davies

THREE Unions representing council staff will ballot their members over whether to accept a pay cut which is set to be approved by councillors today.

Doncaster councillors are meeting to approve the budget for the 2012/13 year at 2pm, which includes a 2.5 per cent pay cut for anyone earning over £21,000 per year to help the authority maintain vital services in the light of Government cuts.

Unison, Unite and the GMB will be balloting their members this week to see if they want to accept the proposed changes to their contracts, which also includes reductions to overtime pay and car mileage payments cut.

If they do not approve the budget, staff could then be balloted on strike action, although this would not include school staff who are exempt from the cuts.

Originally four per cent cuts across the board were proposed for staff, but mayor Peter Davies said he wanted to protect the council’s lowest paid employees.

The revenue budget for the next financial year states almost £30 million of cutbacks must be made to balance the books after some of the largest Government cuts in the country.

A further £18 million deficit has to be absorbed next year and £17.5 million in 2014/15.

Simon Wiles, director of finance and corporate services, has put a report together for the council outlining its spending commitments for the next 12 months.

In it he said: “The council is facing substantial funding reductions over the forthcoming period and needs to make difficult spending decisions to achieve the level of savings required.

“Savings proposals have been identified to meet the budget gap of £29.6 million and provide additional funding for a contingency.

“These savings proposals have been reviewed over many months; involving detailed discussions and deliberations between both officers and members.”

However labour members of the council look set to ask for more changes to be made in a bid to protect the most important services.

The council’s £491 million spending plan for next year includes £304,580 to regenerate gypsy and traveller sites, £54,500 on pest control, £146,540 on libraries and £1.4 million running crematoriums.

The budget does set out plans to help residents who are currently feeling the pinch from the recession by freezing council tax, school meal costs and town centre parking charges.

In his budget Mr Davies said it was important to avoid staff cuts but still offer quality services across the borough.

The plans will be discussed by full council at the Mansion House. If approved they will come into effect on April 1.