Slashing overtime 'could save Hull City Council £3m a year'
SLASHING overtime and other pay perks at Hull City Council could save up to £3m a year, according to a leaked letter.
Senior managers have recently started negotiations with union officials over proposed changes to staff terms and conditions.
Managers say £7m a year could be saved if changes are made to travel allowances and policies on redeployment and early termination.
However, the bulk of the potential savings are earmarked from scrapping current overtime payments for staff, which cost £6.1m last year.
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The leaked letter from the council's human resources manager Jacqui Blesic suggests £3m of annual savings can be achieved by withdrawing a range of existing pay perks.
They include time-and-half pay for staff working additional hours during the week and over weekends, double pay for bank holiday shifts and extra pay for people working at night.
Instead, the council wants to replace them with a basic flat hourly rate.
In the letter, Ms Blesic says: "Our current arrangements are prohibitive in cost to us proving services at a time when the public need them.
"It would be possible under the proposed arrangements to offer part-time jobs just at a weekend at an affordable rate to the council.
"Rather than encourage existing staff to work additional hours, a flat- rate of overtime would make it more cost-effective to have more people to do the work.
"The proposal is recommended on the basis that it protects current jobs and gives the council a possibility to increase employment opportunities.
Council leader Councillor Steve Brady said the believed negotiations over the proposed changes to staff terms and conditions would produce positive results.
Speaking at this week's full council meeting, he said: "The more progress we make on this, the greater number of people will stay working for the council.
"We can only deal with the budgets we have got and we value the staff and the contribution they make to this council.
"That is why it is up to each side to respond positively to what is put on the table.
"It is very early stages at the moment but I am confident progress is already being made."
Union members later lobbied outside the Guildhall in the latest of what are turning into monthly gatherings on the steps of the council's headquarters.
However, most of their fire was directed at the Government and its austerity programme, rather than the council.
Adrian Kennett, Unison's Hull city branch secretary, said Whitehall- imposed funding cuts on local government needed to stop.
He said: "The cuts will blight Hull, its communities and families as jobs are lost and the already-weakened economy nosedives resulting in wider economic decline.
"It is a vicious circle that is not necessary.
"Hull and northern cities and towns like it are being disproportionately attacked by this coalition Government, while their heartlands in the south and southeast are protected."