BROMLEY Council is being taken to court over staff pay negotiations.

As News Shopper reported in August, employees’ contracts are changing as a result of the council becoming a commissioning authority, which could lead to virtually all services being outsourced. 

A new structure, known as a local framework, has been agreed by the council for employees’ terms and conditions.

The local Unison branch says it is taking the council to an employment tribunal because it says the council is offering employees’ financial incentives so they forfeit the right for unions to negotiate pay.

Fellow trade union Unite is also seeking legal advice and considering taking the council to court.

Regional officer Onay Kasab said: "If it is the case that Bromley broke the law, we will have no hesitation in launching legal action.

"It would be appalling if with all the legal advice at its disposal the council has pursued the road of inducements and with complete disregard for the law."

He added: "Essential services now face a race to the bottom. Our campaign against this attack on vital services will now move up a gear."

Unison Branch secretary Glenn Kelly said: "We have been fighting this attack for over a year now as workers are rightly worried that the council will look to take out its cuts on our pay and conditions.

"We have just started the local talks on next year’s pay offer, the council needs to be clear it cannot expect us to sit back year after year and see our living standards fall."

However Bromley Council is defending the changes.

A spokesman said: "Our local framework for the terms and conditions of Bromley staff is now in place and we would reiterate the good reasons why the council agreed to implement this local approach earlier in the year.

"We strongly believe with the changing face of local authorities such an approach gives greater flexibility in a way the national framework does not encourage. 

"It allows us to better reflect local circumstances and improve the council’s ability to recruit and retain the right staff and reward committed, hard-working and exceptional performers through these challenging times." 

He added: "We would also emphasis there was no reduction in our employees’ terms and conditions when they agreed to move to the local framework and all staff bar two have signed the new contract.

"We consulted with staff and their representatives on the proposals and worked with them to address any concerns."