Formal negotiations with the trade unions about pay and terms and conditions for Cornwall Council employees have concluded this week, with an agreement over a set of proposals which will now be put to staff.

Members of trade unions will be asked for their views as part of a union ballot process.

The council says that reductions in Government funding means it needs to make savings of around "£190m over the next five years".

A re organisation of the Council’s management structure began earlier this year, with the previous six directorates now reduced to three, delivering initial savings of around £400,000.

The proposed Collective Agreement 2014 relates to the Council’s directly employed staff, including corporate directors and the chief executive.

The main items in the proposed Collective Agreement are:

• Implementation of the Living Wage from 1 April 2015 (currently £7.65 per hour which equates to an annual minimum salary of £14,758 for a full time employee)

• Commitment to the payment of national annual pay awards until September 2017 (expected to be at least 1% for 2014)

• Deferral of the implementation of contribution related pay (CRP) for three years until October 2017 • Commitment to retain national terms and conditions including sick pay until September 2017

• Retain the existing severance policy (redundancy payments) until September 2017

• Retain the existing pay protection policy (two years pay protection) until September 2017

“The proposed collective agreement has been developed following negotiations with the main trade unions, including Unison, GMB and Unite “ said the council’s chief executive Andrew Kerr.

“This proposal would improve the wages of our lowest paid staff and would deliver over £5.4 million savings in the next five years towards the £190 million challenge facing the Council. It will enable us to help deliver the savings we need without cutting pay and terms and conditions more radically and we hope that we can achieve this by agreement.

“We can be justifiably proud of how we have worked together to address similar financial challenges in the past and I hope that we can do the same again now. We will continue to work closely with trade unions and staff to look at ways in which we can reduce our workforce by voluntary means where possible, whilst continuing to target investment in the skills that will be needed in our workforce for the future.”

Stuart Roden, UNISON regional organiser, said "The level of cuts imposed on the Council by Central Government are unprecedented and will mean drastic cuts to front line services and jobs. We believe it is right that we work with the Council to explore ways to protect essential service for our local community. We are, however, concerned that the pay of local government workers has been cut by 18% over the last three years and we must ensure that national pay rates are maintained and that particular help is given to the low paid to raise their living standards."

"We will now consult our members on the proposals. We believe that these proposals strike the right balance between protecting services and helping the lower paid. We will, therefore, be recommending acceptance of the package but this is subject to a ballot of all members".