IMPACT: Nick Bye
TORBAY Mayor Nick Bye has defended the council's new pay review process which he says has hit morale in the town hall hard.
More than 1,800 Torbay Council staff have had their jobs reviewed and as a result some are facing pay cuts, in some cases running into thousands of pounds.
Their current salaries are protected for a year. Others will get a pay rise, back-dated two years.
The change will not affect the most senior ranks, whose posts were re-evaluated last year during restructuring.
A further 1,936 school support staff will receive their letters after the Easter break in.
In 2005 police civilian staff walked out after Devon and Cornwall Police went through a similar process. It led to the eventual resignation of chief constable Maria Wallis.
Mr Bye said the Audit Commission in its March 2009 report on the council had again reiterated it was a national process the council was required to complete.
He said: "It is something Government has told us to do. It was one of the key messages in the Audit Commission report saying we had to get on and complete it.
"It's designed to ensure people in local government are paid fairly, but inevitably there are winners and losers.
"It has had a huge impact on morale within the organisation so all credit to chief executive Elizabeth Raikes and our elected members who are doing their utmost in these very, very difficult time to maintain morale.
"People who are losing are obviously very upset, they have their pay protected for a year.
"But for those who win we have to backdate that payment for two years.
"There are groups of people who have not been paid fairly over the years, but it's not for me to say if people should go up or down.
"However, it does make it very difficult to maintain morale when I generally believe we have a superb workforce who often do very difficult work in difficult circumstances and who are under a lot of pressure and a lot of public scrutiny."
He said everyone was being advised of the appeals process.
"On the other hand there is only a limited pot of money," he said.
For the past three years, the council has set aside a total of £3.3million to cover the cost.
Mr Bye said: "It has had an impact on the budget as we have had to set aside money to cover it. In the end the cost may be neutral on the overall wage bill and it certainly hasn't been a cost-cutting measure."
South Hams Council is still in the process of completing the 'single status' review of pay for all its workers.
It was expected to be finished this spring, but the council has still not announced a date.
Teignbridge Council went through the process some years ago as did Devon County Council.
Schools which are independent, voluntary aided or foundation status could have opted out of the review process.
Of those Torbay Boys' Grammar, Churston Ferrers Grammar and Hayes Primary School in Paignton have opted out.
Roy Pike, head teacher at TBGS, said when they had become a foundation school they had agreed their own pay scales for staff.
"We agreed their contracts would be at least as good as any other school within the area. We gave an undertaking staff would be well looked after," he said.