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Birmingham City Council’s Martini employment contract in flux

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Birmingham's City Council's 'Martini' contract – so called because it allegedly permits managers to demand staff work anytime, any place, anywhere – has been signed up to by less than half of the city's staff even as a row continues over planned offshoring of IT jobs. 

With effect from 1 November, all staff working for the council after this date will be subject to the new terms and conditions by default, even if they haven’t granted written consent which has to date only been given by 9000 of the council's 20,000 workers. The remainder are now likely to be sacked and then immediately reengaged, but only if they accept the new contracts. 
 
Trade unions allege that the council plans to use the new terms and conditions to scrap paying bonuses to staff, axe differential overtime rates and end perks such as free parking risk – as well lose up to £6000 a year. 
 
Cllr Alan Rudge, cabinet member for equalities & human resources, claimed payments are being made where there is no justified business need. “These inconsistencies and practices outside of the core contract are exposing the council to significant litigation risks,'” he said.
 
But  Rob Johnston, regional spokesman for Unison, said:  “There is an extraordinary amount of anger over this. Our members cannot understand how the council can get away with clobbering people who are already poorly paid.”
 
The council insists that a pay protection plan for those hit hardest by the changes wil mean that  the lowest paid staff will be given a 12-month cushion during which their pay cannot be reduced by more than ten percent.
 
In related moves, the council's decision to reverse controversial plans to 'lift and shift' 100 back office IT jobs to India remains in question with the council in discussions over a number of practical issues and contractual commitments with Service Birmingham, which employs 1,100 staff. 
 
Deputy council leader Coun Paul Tilsley said the plan to offshore had been scrapped in the wake of widespread public outcry.“Capita has taken the decision to stop the jobs going to Pune following our negotiations. We will now be supporting jobs in Birmingham,” he said, adding:  Birmingham City Council is the customer and we have told them there will be no Service Birmingham jobs going to India. There are council officers and Capita staff now working to make sure that is implemented as we have requested.”
 
But a Service Birmingham spokesman would only state: “Our client, Birmingham City Council, is a“sking us to revisit contractual commitments around offshoring with a view to discontinuing the initiative. Clearly discussions around this issue are commercially confidential and we are actively working with council officials to come to an agreed position.”
 
Welcoming the council's decision not to offshore, Labour deputy leader Ian Ward questioned whether planned savings of £135 million would now be made. “We are pleased that the council’s Tory Lib-Dem executive has back-pedalled and changed their position in line with the Labour motion. We are pleased that the council will now be creating jobs in Birmingham rather than India,” he said. “But we wonder whether this will have any impact on the savings that were expected to be delivered by the contract with Capita.”
 
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