AN £800,000 ‘bribe’ is being offered to Bromley Council staff to convince them to change their contracts in a move which has been slammed by unions.
The workers are currently governed by employment terms and conditions which have been agreed by unions on a national level but the council wants to change this.
It is pressing ahead with a plan to renegotiate contracts so it has local control and is offering a £200 payment to each staff member which willingly signs up.
But two of the biggest unions in the council, Unison and Unite, are fighting against the move.
Unison spokeswoman Helen Reynolds said: “The unions have been campaigning for a long time around this issue including hundreds of staff signing petitions making it clear that they would not voluntarily sign up to the new contractual terms.
“As a result of the campaigning, London Borough of Bromley have now come back with a bribe which we are clear is because they realised staff would not be so easily persuaded.
“It is astounding that having been told there is no money available and the need to continue to make drastic cuts to services and particularly to staffing – that the council has been able to find over £800,000 to bribe staff into signing away their protection under the national agreement.”
Unite spokesman Onay Kasab said: “There are a significant number of staff who have returned forms to the council saying they do not accept the change to contracts.
“The council has now contacted all staff to say they have the opportunity to change their minds and agree to the changes.
“However, there are staff who will have agreed to the changes but who now, having heard all the arguments may change minds and want to say that they do not agree and want to get a changed response in by the deadline.
“Incredibly, these staff have been told that they will not be allowed to change minds.”
Bromley Council leader Councillor Stephen Carr said: “We firmly believe moving to a local scheme for determining terms and conditions is the right way forward for the council and for our staff.
“It will improve our ability to recruit and retain the right staff, and reward committed, hard working, exceptional performers through challenging times.
“When renegotiating contracts it is a recognised practice to offer a facilitation payment – in this case it is funded from one-off money set aside in previous budgets to cover staffing costs.”
Unite and Unison have balloted their members to ask if they are prepared to be balloted for strike action.
The ballots closed on Friday (February 15) but the results are not yet known.