Merthyr Tydfil council bypasses unions and asks staff to agree to pay cuts

Trades unions are disappointed that the chief executive of Merthyr council has bypassed trade unions and sent a message out to almost half of the council’s workers asking them to accept large cuts in pay to plug budget gaps caused by the UK government’s austerity agenda.

Intensive talks between the joint trades unions – UNISON, GMB and UNITE – and chief executive Gareth Chapman, have been ongoing to find alternatives to this measure, which the chief executive refers to in his email as ‘the last resort’.

UNISON Merthyr branch chair Mike Crimmings said: “This announcement is odd. We thought we had been making progress in trying to identify alternatives to this drastic measure.

“The chief executive appears to be determined not only to push ahead with cuts to already low paid staff’s pay, but also to undermine the collective bargaining agreement and our normal negotiating processes.

“It’s disappointing, but we have already communicated with our members advising them not to respond to the chief executive’s email and will be holding meetings with our members in the near future.”

The trades unions have been arguing that staff should not be expected to take further pay cuts, when local government pay has already lost 20% of its value since 2010.

Mike Crimmings continued: “It is immoral to ask low paid staff to subsidise services when they are already suffering - especially in one of the most deprived areas in Wales.

“We don’t believe our members will be prepared to be bullied into this and we will not stand by while the council tries to bypass all the normal negotiating structures to achieve this.”