City council to take staff to Supreme Court in long-running pay row

Nottingham City Council is to take an ongoing dispute with staff members over pay rises to the Supreme Court.

Staff members have not received a rise in salary since 2011. But in an email sent to staff this week, the Labour-controlled local authority argued it acted to prevent job cuts when the pay freeze was rolled out.

Today’s decision to go to the country’s highest legal authority comes after the 600 workers won their challenge at the Court of Appeal back in April over the council’s freeze on public sector.

In a letter from the council to its staff, it said: “We are extremely disappointed with the Court of Appeal’s decision, which would result in a major additional cost to the council at a time when budgets are under huge pressure as a result of government cuts.

“As the financial impact of this judgement would be significant, an appeal against the decision is being lodged by the council.”

The local authority added that the halt on pay rises was done to save money, claiming that freezing on these pay rises alone allowed 1,000 jobs to be saved.

“Had it not been introduced, further significant cuts to services and job losses would have been unavoidable,” the letter noted.

Three of the leading trade union chiefs from the city have written to the council disagreeing with the decision to take the case to the Supreme Court.

In the letter, Unison, GMB and Unite told Nottingham councillors that the authority should dip into reserves to make compensatory one-off payments to affected employees as a result of allegedly breaching their contracts.

The letter said: "We find the council's recent communication to be particularly disturbing and view it as an attempt to blame our members for the financial difficulties the council is facing.

The unions added that the council conflated the legal right of staff to defend contractual terms and the council's need to make efficiency savings. 

"It is grossly unfair to suggest that when workers assert legitimate employment rights the result should be that their jobs are now at risk," the unions added.

The ongoing case has been running since 2013, when staff initially took their claims to an employment tribunal in Nottingham.

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Image Credit: JasonBatterham, iStock images



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