RELIEVED Wyre Forest District Council chiefs have announced they have come to an agreement with unions over pay increases for the next three years.

The authority had been locked in negotiations with both UNISON and GMB unions over the proposed pay deal for the 300-strong workforce.

And, after a final round of negotiations and ballots, members of both unions agreed on an improved pay settlement worth 4.25 per cent over three years.

But no agreement was reached on the council’s proposed phasing out of Long Service Award (LSA) to around 50 members of staff after UNISON members rejected it.

At a full council meeting on September 27, the Conservative administration endorsed an offer of 4.5 per cent rises over four years – rejecting the unions’ plea for the authority to rejoin national pay negotiations that it broke away from in 2014.

Chief Executive Ian Miller continued with a final period of negotiations resulting in the new settlement. The consultation phase will formally end on November 13. Full Council will be formally asked to back it on December 14.

If the new deal is formally backed by full council on December 14, staff will see rises of 1.5 per cent in 2018/19 and 1.25 per cent for the following two years. A further 0.25 per cent bonus will be paid in 2020.

Kim Wright, GMB Organiser, said: “We are satisfied as we can be. The pay settlement isn’t as good as we wanted but it is certainly better than what was proposed before.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t get collective agreement on the LSA. But they made movement in negotiations on pay and reached a good, amicable resolution.

“We hope that they will now proceed with the better settlement when the issue goes to Full Council.”

Councillor Nathan Desmond, the Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “I am very pleased that the further period of negotiation has allowed us to reach a deal with the unions on pay.

“I will be recommending to my fellow Councillors that they endorse the settlement negotiated by the Chief Executive.

“A three year collective agreement will give staff certainty about their income as well as give the council certainty that will allow us to plan our finances.”

“We need that certainty because we estimate that we will need to find another £2m in extra income and cost savings by 2020-21 because of changes in how local councils are funded.

Council leader Marcus Hart added: “Our priority was to find a pay solution that was affordable to the Council as well as fair to staff. Our position was to avoid a deal that would mean shedding jobs. I am pleased that we have been able to do that.

“We have demonstrated an excellent track record in making savings while at the same time preserving public services that local communities value and protecting jobs for our valued employees. I support the improved pay deal because it will enable that work to continue.”