Birmingham City Council (BCC) has been serially disgracing itself in its treatment of its refuse workers.
The council tried to force its workers to accept a pay-cut of £3,500-5,000, then reached an agreement with workers and their union to maintain their pay and grades. 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.
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 – yet BCC’s interim chief executive sent a crass email to thousands of employees telling them what a great holiday she’d had.
If an email that one employee compared to Marie-Antoinette’s infamous ‘Let them eat cake’ seems to take the biscuit, there’s more.
It seems the council provides a chauffeur for its council leader.
Locals told the SKWAWKBOX that Ian Ward – who took over as council leader after the resignation of John Clancy over the broken wage deal – is not banned from driving, nor incapable of doing so, and that he owns a car.
Yet apparently providing him with a chauffeur is so pressing that a council that is supposed to be cash-strapped is prepared to pay considerably more for one than the £19-21,000 paid to a leading hand refuse worker. Here’s the ad for the position from July last year:
In fact, the salary advertised for the chauffeur is enough to maintain the pay of as many as seven leading hand refuse workers, avoiding the need for them to take pay-cuts of almost twenty percent.
The SKWAWKBOX has put the following questions to BCC:
- why does the council leader need a chauffeur? Is he banned from, or incapable of, driving?
- does the council consider it appropriate to be employing a chauffeur at a higher salary than a leading hand refuse worker?
- the leading hand role is described by unions as safety-critical. Why does a chauffeur for the council leader take higher priority than four or more leading hands whose salaries could be maintained with the cost of a chauffeur’s salary?
Answers will be published when received.
Of course, if the chauffeur is still employed he should not lose his job. But the fact that the job exists shows that BCC can find cash when it wants to – and apparently it wants to so that a council leader capable of driving doesn’t have to do so.
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