Council workers in Kirklees have been left fuming after they were sent a text message asking if they wanted to give up some of their wages in exchange for parking spaces or extra holidays.
Some staff were appalled to hear of the new measures being proposed, as they went about their busy working days.
The text, sent by the council’s It’s Time to Talk Team, asked employees: “Would you be interested in exchanging salary for non-cash benefits such as car parking or extra holidays? Text YES or NO.”
One female worker, who did not want to be named, said: “So many of us were angry and upset. There has been no consultation with the unions on this.
“Morale is so low that people are just fed up. What’s going to be next? Are they going to try paying us in supermarket vouchers?
“It is absolutely disgusting and shameful. Is a car parking space going to feed my children?”
Public sector union Unison also condemned the council initiative, dismissing the non-cash benefits as “gimmicks”.
Branch secretary Paul Holmes said: “We were completely unaware of this.
“If the council wants to talk about benefits, they need to talk to the unions rather than doing it like this by text message.
“It causes offence to our members. They wonder what’s going on. Are they going to get sacked or made redundant. They never talk to anyone. It’s just gimmicks to me.”
The council defended the text question and director for communities, transformation and change Ruth Redfern said workers suggested the idea in the first place.
She added: “We are committed to consulting with staff in the most convenient ways for them and at times which allow their input to influence discussions.
“The suggestion to use texts to council mobiles came from staff themselves, as have the questions.
“Anyone who received this particular text would have been sent an earlier one to tell them that we would be asking questions in this way, we welcome their views, and that the results would be anonymous.
“Nobody is obliged to answer but I hope that they do take the chance to tell us their views.
“Many of our staff prefer to send a quick yes or no by text as they use their phones frequently.
“We only send to council mobiles and we use the responses to take a temperature check on the organisation.
“We will continue to do all we can to consult with staff in a way which is comfortable and convenient for them as we take major decisions on the future of Kirklees Council’s service delivery.”