In another blow the reputation of Labour Councils in our region, Newcastle Labour groups joins Durham in proposing to cut pay and conditions of its front line workers. (see here about Durham’s proposals to make low paid and part time, mostly women teaching assistants take a 25% pay cut and are rightly fighting back with strike action next week)

On Sunday night Newcastle’s Labour Group met and on Monday informed trade unions proposals as part of the council’s budget for 2017, that would result in 30% of the workforce; some 1800 staff; seeing their wages slashed by up to a third.

The council is proposing to stop paying shift allowance; weekend enhancements and changing the time night rate is paid from 8.00 pm until 10.00pm.

The council have previously released information to the staff, unions and press, on their budget proposals which would see £30M cut from the budget in 2017 with 100 jobs made redundant, but these proposals had been kept hidden.

Paul Gilroy, Branch Secretary of UNISON Newcastle said “It’s a disgrace that Newcastle’s Labour Council have turned on their workforce to slash staff salaries by up to a third, particularly after recently agreeing to increase the pay of the Chief Executive and Directors”. “Many of the staff affected care for the most vulnerable adults and children across the city and this is the thanks they get; another miserable and worrying Christmas for council staff and their families”. He went on to say that “industrial action cannot be ruled out at this stage”.

Colin Burr from the GMB said “This is an attack on staff who care for the most vulnerable adults and children across the city. It attacks those groups who are predominately the lowest paid and rely on allowances and weekend enhancements, to make a living. Unfortunately once again not only trade union members will be affected by this, but the most vulnerable in our society will potentially suffer by this proposal.”

Dave Eglon from UNITE and Steve Conwell from UCATT said “A Labour run Council should hang their heads in shame. They are taking money off the most vulnerable and lowest paid workers at NCC by stripping bare their terms and conditions”.

The GMB union who are perhaps the union with the largest proportion of its members affected has already stated its intention to ballot for strike action (read here)

Last month Labour Group reportedly voted 17 to 16 to increase the chief executives pay and four other directors while cutting hundreds of posts.  Some councillors might question why this proposal wasnt debated at the same meeting and perhaps they should argue that the question of pay rises at the top be reopened.

Unison should join GMB in balloting for strike action

See press release newcastle-city-joint-trade-unions-press-release