NEW terms and conditions for 6,500 workers at Shropshire Council have come into effect.

The decision for workers to take a 2.7 per cent pay cut was reached during crunch talks between council bosses and trade unions UNITE, GMB and UNISON after more than 1,200 workers staged a day-long walkout. A second 2.7 per cent cut planned for next year could be offset if negotiations are successful.

Council leader Keith Barrow said: “We are having really positive talks with the trade unions about how we can work to avoid imposing the full 2.7 per cent pay reduction next year.

“It should not be forgotten the council has to save £76m over the coming years, due to unprecedented government cuts.

“These changes will save around £7 million of that, as well as saving about 400 jobs.”

Letters were sent by the authority to all 6,500 employees stating they will be dismissed on September 30 but will keep their jobs and be re-hired on October 1 if they agree to a 5.4 per cent pay cut and new terms and conditions.

Staff were given the option of voluntarily accepting the change to their terms and conditions, or moving to the new conditions by technically being dismissed from their old contracts and re-employed on a new one. Staff were employed under the new terms on October 1.

Cllr Barrow added: “I know this has been an extremely difficult time for our staff, and I hope we can put this behind us and move forward.

“I can assure people that there will be no disruption to services, and the public will notice no difference to the high level of commitment they are used to from their council workers.”

Speaking during negotians, Alan James, Shropshire UNISON branch secretary, said: “We feel these proposals are a step forward for staff, whilst still helping to make the massive savings that the council is required to achieve.”

UNITE branch chair Di Phillips added: “Although our members aren’t comfortable with the changes there is an understanding of the council predicament.”

Shropshire Council has already cut away a third of its management, saving £4million, with the remaining management and councillors having taken large wage cuts.