Labour/Union Pay Deal Will Cost Jobs and Services

A deal between the union bosses and the new Labour Administration was always going to come fairly quickly once the elections were over. The industrial action was political from the start, with the senior union negotiators all Labour Party people. However the recently announced deal doesn’t mark the end of this sordid story. The cost of the deal is £2.8M a year, and this comes on top of the very large budget gap that the council faces in order to balance the books. The previous Conservative administration made terms and condition changes to keep more people in work and to protect the services that residents rely on.

The price of the Labour/Union deal will be lost jobs and services. However we won’t know exactly who and what will be axed until November when next year’s draft council budget is published.

Labour and the union bosses are keeping that information under wraps until after the council staff are balloted on the pay deal. It is very underhand to present this as good news to staff and ask them to vote on it and then a month later reveal to them exactly what it costs to pay for it in lost jobs and services.

We have already seen the start of Labour’s cuts hitting the front line. The pay agreement alone is the equivalent of 10 Oaklands Pool closures.

It’s a deal that favours better paid staff and it is likely that it will be lower paid staff that bear the brunt of the job cuts.

Under the Conservative Council those earning less than £17,500pa (40% of staff) received a pay rise. The Conservatives were offering to protect those on £22,000pa and under from pay cuts and restore previous pay cuts, backdating them until last summer. It is ironic that the vast majority of bin men would have been better off under that arrangement, by about £600 compared with Labour/Union deal. Labour and unions were happy to use bin men for their own means during the strike but have secured them a worse deal.

This new deal will also be cold comfort to those staff which the union leaders managed to convince were due thousands and thousands of pounds if they took the council to court.

The tragic outcome of this long political campaign will be felt not only by staff themselves when Labour announce their extra job losses but by the residents of the city who will see more of their services axed.

This post was written by
Jeremy fought the Test seat at the 2010 and 2015 General Elections. Jeremy grew up locally and went to school in Highfield and Shirley and attended Richard Taunton’s college. He served as a Southampton City Councillor between 2002 and 2018. Jeremy works as a Pensions Manager for FTSE 100 company, Friends Life.

2 Comments on "Labour/Union Pay Deal Will Cost Jobs and Services"

  • Anonymous says

    Dear Jeremy Moulton

    Your comments on your blog contain some glaring untruths that need to be addressed.

    The simple fact is that your “final” proposal did not represent anywhere near the deal unions are putting before members now.

    Your “final” proposals recompensed only a very small proportion of employees and did nothing for the rest. They knew that would not secure a yes vote but they did not care.

    The Labour administrations offer puts much more back into the pockets of our members; these are the facts:

    • First of all it is not true to say that those earning less than £17,500 did not receive a pay cut. Many of them not only lost increments worth around £400, but other low paid workers (such as care workers) also suffered substantial losses due to 25% reductions in car mileage allowances (care workers use their own cars to provide essential services to the most vulnerable in our society).

    • The Labour Administrations proposals provide for an increment payment for those earning less than £17,500 backdated 11 months to May (when Labour were elected), a 100% increase in contractual car payments (which City Care workers will now benefit from for the first time) and the immediate restoration of pay cuts for those earning between £17,500 and £22,000. These proposals alone provide recompense for many more workers than your proposal ever did.

    • The Labour proposals deliver a restoration of pay cuts to 3,450 of the 4,000 who were affected. Your proposals provided only for 800 of the same total.

    • Labours proposals puts £2.3 million back into the pockets of our members.

    • You “offered” a miserly £600,000, the amount they had already set aside to fight the legal challenge.

    • The other £500,000 was a market supplement which was already committed, designed to placate some social workers who were refusing to sign new contracts. This was a desperate act to right the wrong doings that has drastically backfired. Because of the disgraceful treatment of those staff, Southampton City Council still to this day finds it almost impossible to attract permanent Social Workers, resulting in us having to pay almost double the wages for agency staff.

    • Labours proposal retains those market supplements and has agreed to review which workers should be in receipt of such payments.

    • The last and possibly most important fact is that Unite and Unison members, in a postal (and fully secret) ballot, rejected your “final” proposals. Our members will now have the opportunity to vote in the same way on this proposal and it will be entirely their collective decision that stands. This is democracy at work.

    You and your Party did not want a resolution to this dispute at all, what you wanted was to divide and rule, hoping that looking after just a few would split union members down the middle. From the very beginning it was you and your Party that made this dispute Political. In the first week of the strike members of your party went out and were tagging green and blue bins in both Millbrook and Woolston with flyers that attacked the Unions, the Labour Party and directed those unlucky enough to believe it, to Cllr Smith‘s website. It was a political act that we as Unions had to respond to accordingly.

    We believe this dispute was unashamedly used by yourself and your ‘leader’ as a personal promotion exercise for your Parliamentary ambitions. Unfortunately you both underestimated the determination of union members and the service users of Southampton.

    Ian Woodland

  • Ian

    We will of course disagree on this. Our priority was to protect the lowest paid and to keep people in work and protect services at a time when we were having to find millions of pounds of savings.

    The key point in my article is that those earnings between £17,500 and £22,000 are worse off under this offer than under the one you signed up to under our Administration.

    894 people are worse off by roughly £600. This includes street cleaners, bin men, bridge toll collectors, School crossing patrol officers, grounds maintenance officers, library staff, sure start workers etc.

    Jeremy

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