Waltham Forest: Council pay changes “will hit low earners”

(The following article appeared in the Waltham Forest Guardian)

CHANGES to council staff pay will unfairly affect the lowest earners, according to a public sector union.

Unison has accused town hall bosses of protecting senior officers at the expense of frontline staff.

The Staffing Commitee, which consists of just four councillors, approved proposals to save £3 million on Wednesday night (September 14).

Expenses for staff using their own cars for work are to be scrapped, which Unison claims will hit services such as Meals on Wheels for the elderly.

Unison say the abolition of increased hourly rates of pay for overtime and weekend work will see staff, such as library assistants, lose up to £7,000 a year.

It adds that a highways enforcement officer will lose £7,784 of his or her’s £31,761 annual pay for a role that includes cleaning up roads after traffic accidents, while residential care home assistants earning £20,877 must take a cut of £4,202 after enduring a two-year pay freeze.

The union says that noise officers and dog enforcement officers will lose £6,183 and £3,400 respectively.

It also claims Althea Loderick, head of human resources, is set to receive a pay rise, which will take her annual salary to £109,000.

Another manager could see their pay rise by £20,000, states Unison.

Dave Knight, Unison branch secretary, said: ”It is almost unbelievable that this administration could behave in this way.

“They are increasing the pay gap by increasing potential pay at the top end and cutting pay at the bottom end. Our lower paid members are not to blame for the financial crisis but are being made to pay for the cost of it.”

More than 800 people have signed a petition calling on the council to cut its use of consultants, which unions say cost £18 million a year.

The council leadership say a number of senior management posts have been axed and officers have taken on extra responsibilities.

The authority has previously said it was considering “mitigating options”, but details have not yet been revealed.

The members of the staffing committee are Cllr Afzal Akram, cabinet member for resources, Cllr Matt Davis, Conservative Group leader, and Labour members Clare Coghill and Karen Bellamy.

Unison has joined Unite, the GMB and the Fire Brigades’ Union is announcing it will ballot on co-ordinated industrial action over proposed changes to pensions.

(originally published 10:39am Friday 16th September 2011)

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