Thousands of council workers could be forced to take a pay cut, a reduction in sickness benefit and a week’s unpaid leave as part of radical plans in Rochdale to minimise job losses.

The changes to the pay and conditions of the local authority’s 7,000 town hall workers are part of an attempt to slash £64 million from its budget by 2014, after already having pruned expenditure by the same amount this year.
 
Although employees will have the final say on whether to accept the changes in a staff-wide ballot that is due to take place this autumn, Rochdale Council will argue that hundreds more jobs will have to go if its proposals are rejected.
 
Workers are being asked to take a 2.5% pay cut and managers a drop of 5%. Staff would also not receive any sick pay for the first three days of being off work due to illness. Under current employment law, statutory sick pay is only paid if personnel are absent due to sickness for four days or more.
 
Employees would likewise be asked to take an additional week’s unpaid holiday on top of their normal paid allowance. It is thought the move would save the authority a total of £5.5 million per year.
 
Stephen Harper, HR service director at the Council confirmed to the Manchester Evening News that the organisation was reviewing staff terms and conditions and had informed workers of its proposals on Monday afternoon.
 
“Between now and 2015, we need to save a further £64 million and in order to do that we need to consider everything we do, and how we do it,” he said. “That is why we are looking at what we provide and how we provide it, and it’s why like several other councils, we are looking at employee conditions of service.”
 
The proposals would be considered by the Council’s cabinet on Thursday 1 September, after which time consultations with staff and unions would take place, he added.