CONTROVERSIAL plans which would cut the take-home pay of some of Bournemouth council’s lowest-paid workers have been put on hold.

The council was proposing to scrap enhanced hourly rates for staff working antisocial hours, weekends and most public holidays.

But now the staff – who had been warned they would no longer have a job unless they signed new contracts – have been told the process has been suspended.

Unions said some staff were in tears when originally briefed about the cuts, which were aimed at saving £400,000 a year.

They say home carers – now called ‘re-ablement assistants’ – would have lost £109 a month on wages of £15,000 a year or less.

In an email to staff, council chief executive Tony Williams, said: “Having listened to the feedback so far, it is clear to me that there are important matters of concern that need careful consideration before we decide how we might best achieve our ambition to modernise our pay practices and remain competitive in the future.

“I have therefore decided, in consultation with the leader, that the current process will be suspended until further notice and have asked Liz Wilkinson (executive director of finance) to undertake a comprehensive review of where we have got to so far and to identify options for future action.”

David Higgins, regional branch secretary for Unison, said: “We’re pleased from the staff’s point of view that they did pull back on it because we feel it would adversely affect some of the lowest paid staff.

“These are people who go much further than the extra mile to do their jobs would have found it extremely difficult to survive had they gone ahead with the original plan.

“It would be a matter of heating or eating.”

Michael Cracknell, regional organiser for the Unison trade union, said: “Public sector workers are already struggling with an 18 per cent reduction of pay in real terms and are faced with some serious decisions to make in order to live.”

He pointed out that there were now 11 councillors drawing allowances of more than £20,000 a year – more money than 60 per cent of council employees earned.