The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) follows discussions led by First Minister Carwyn Jones with Local Government Leaders through the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) and the GMB, Unison, UNITE and UCATT trade unions through the Wales TUC. It provides an all-Wales framework for trades unions and local authorities to work together on an agreed basis in dealing with the extremely difficult financial outlook.
First Minister Carwyn Jones said:
"This shows the willingness of all parties to work together to address the challenges of public spending cuts and to protect the workforce from compulsory redundancies as far as possible. Our local government workforce is our greatest asset in delivering vital services to the people of Wales. The agreement will help local authorities to sustain and improve the services on which people depend".
Parties to the MOU agree that a consistent approach to cost reductions across the whole of local government will lessen the potential impact of cuts on any particular section of the local government workforce.
Discussions will take place with complete transparency on the local financial position and will consider all avenues for dealing with deficits including service delivery and Council Tax levels. Areas agreed as appropriate for local consideration of cost reduction measures include car allowances, overtime and weekend working allowances and pay protection / redeployment allowances following organisational change.
WLGA leader Councillor John Davies stated that -
"The signing of the MOU represents a significant achievement in terms of dealing with public expenditure cuts in Wales. It signals willingness by the Welsh Assembly Government, the local government employers and trade unions to put job retention within councils as one of our core objectives in this tough financial climate. The aim is to positively examine a menu of options agreed nationally within this framework. The Employers remain concerned that because of the difficult financial situation that compulsory redundancies may not be completely avoided and that may need to be reflected in local discussions. However the key point is that the agreement is the first of its kind in the devolved setting and signals a different Welsh approach to dealing with cuts and avoiding job losses wherever possible".
Wales TUC General Secretary Martin Mansfield said -
"This is a hugely significant step forward in developing a Welsh way of dealing with cuts imposed on us from London. It mirrors the approach we adopted in response to the economic crisis - unions, employers and Welsh Government working together in partnership to find innovative solutions. There will be different local circumstances for each authority to discuss with their trade unions but this agreement provides a solid framework for those discussions. The Wales TUC believes that this all Wales agreement will provide the flexibility required to mitigate the effects of the Westminster cuts - placing jobs and services at the heart of our response."