Over 600 council workers protested Monday and Tuesday at Caerphilly council offices against the plan by the Labour-controlled council to increase top managers’ pay by over 20% while council services and jobs are cut by 10%. Council workers, like others in the public sector, are in the third year of a pay freeze, yet their bosses are exempt from the freeze. Some workers on temporary contracts could lose their jobs in April and just the pay increase for O’Sullivan would have paid for a worker’s job.
Council chief executive Anthony O’Sullivan’s pay was increased from a maximum of £131,000 to a whopping £158,000 last week – with the increase back-dated to August. UNISON branch secretary, Gary Enright explained they would not just accept the chief executive’s pay rise, “Our clear and united message to Caerphilly council is we demand fairness for all and we will accept nothing less than a rescinding of this unequal and divisive decision.”
Workers are angry that the Labour council let the managers’ rise through on the nod. “It looks like they tried to get it through without anyone noticing” said a care-worker. They lobbied the meeting of the Labour group on Tuesday evening. Most were very unimpressed with the explanation of the Labour councillor who was sent to speak to the lobby – that they were unaware of the rises and were looking at the “legal situation”. The council had voted to accept the minutes of a sub-committee that included the decision to raise the Chief Executive’s pay. Now the councillors are claiming they did not know about the pay rise. But as one worker at the protest explained: “Either they agreed to this pay rise or they were deceived by council officers or they are too incompetent to read the minutes – it must one or other”.
But they are also aware that Plaid Cymru councillors also did nothing to question the pay rise.
Massive pay rises for the bosses while workers’ pay is frozen and jobs are lost is not confined to Caerphilly council. Mark Evans who brought support from Carmarthenshire council UNISON branch explained that the chief executive in Carmarthenshire gets paid the same as 13 low paid council workers! In Cardiff the Labour council has just agreed a multi-million pound package for new managers while hundreds of council workers providing council services have lost their jobs.
New Labour policies are being let rip in Welsh Labour councils. Workers’ pay frozen while overpaid top managers are slashing and burning jobs and conditions. In Cardiff council consultants and managers are closing whole departments, privatising and outsourcing services and teachers being given redundancy notices “in case” they need to sacked without a murmur from Labour councillors. Why do council workers’ unions continue to contribute to the election campaign funds of these cutters? (By Dave Reid)