Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Fair pay for all is how the council can avoid a devastating summer bin strike

Any summer strike by bin men or any other staff will be devastating to both residents and Brighton’s vibrant tourist industry.

The council really must prevent it, by ruling out pay decreases, and finding the political will to pay all staff a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

It’s great that the Tory Council has tried to sort out the mess left by its Labour predecessor, who simply ignored the equal pay issue for years, but the answer must lie in increasing the pay of those at the bottom of the pile, not cutting the pay of those earning a little more. Both Labour and the Tories will be to blame if this mess spills onto our streets this summer.

The council is proposing pay cuts at the same time as advertising for a £170,000 a year Chief Executive: what kind of message does this send out?

Of course, increasing pay for the council’s lowest paid staff (including the 1,000-odd who are earning less than £7 an hour) will cost money – but the council simply must find it.

It’s all about priorities: we Greens introduced a motion in a recent meeting to cap the salaries of senior staff, which would enable the council to give the lowest paid more. It wasn’t even debated, as it was ruled out of order by (guess who?) senior staff.

Of course, it’s a difficult financial time for everyone, but I believe that the council should not implement pay cuts for existing staff at all: any wage cuts will hit those who can least afford it.

I hope there is no strike, but if there is we must remember: it’ll be a failure of the Tory council and not the CityClean staff trying to defend their pay working conditions.

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