The residents and council workers of Birmingham have been facing turmoil and disruption for months as a result of the City council’s (BCC) dire handling of a pay dispute that the council itself created by announcing it was going to either impose a massive pay-cut on safety-critical refuse workers, or make them redundant.
The council reached an agreement with workers and their union. It even communicated the agreement to depot managers and key staff.
And then it tried to renege on the deal. The SKWAWKBOX’s revelation that the deal had been made, approved – and the Acas negotiations that led to it were known and approved by senior councillors and council executives – led to the resignation of the council leader.
The council’s response to the revelation of its bad faith? To issue redundancy notices to the affected workers – which led to a humiliating defeat in court as a judge granted an injunction against the redundancies. Even after that, BCC sent intimidating letters to staff facing a worrying wait for a final legal decision. The court case and dispute continue.
That’s not all. In another exclusive, the SKWAWKBOX also revealed that the council has been using its ‘Birmingham Living Wage’ pledge to cut the money paid to thousands of its lowest-paid employees.
It’s a fraught and unpleasant situation, both for employees and to Birmingham residents who face continuing uncertainty about refuse collections.
So you’d think BCC’s interim chief executive would be a little circumspect in her communications. Not a bit of it.
Stella Manzie’s latest Chief Executive’s Weekly Bulletin, which is sent to virtually all of BCC’s many thousands of staff, addresses a variety of topics, from education to internal council elections, ends with a paragraph that has had the jaws of BCC employees hitting desks and floors:
“Stressed, underpaid, overworked staff who feel exploited and betrayed? Hey, let’s cheer them up by telling them what a great time I had when I ‘managed’ a weekend jaunt to Spain!“
What could possibly go wrong?
Quite a lot. Stressed, underpaid, overworked staff have told the SKWAWKBOX that the email amounts to a declaration of ‘let them eat cake‘ from a staggeringly oblivious and out-of-touch CEO who appears oblivious to the likely impact of this jolly account of her weekend adventures.
Maybe that’s inevitable when you’re on at least £186,000 a year – according to the BCC pay policy document – plus expenses. But the BCC workers we spoke to feel that whatever their CEO is being paid such a large amount for, it certainly isn’t sensitivity, people-management or industrial-relations skills.
BCC has been contacted for comment but has not responded so far.
The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.