Socialist Worker

Trouble upon Tyne as Newcastle Labour chiefs threaten to slash wages

Issue No. 2529

Newcastles Labour council is attacking its workers

Newcastle's Labour council is attacking its workers (Pic: Stevekeiretsu)


A Labour council in the north east of England has told workers to take a pay cut of thousands of pounds or lose 100 jobs. Newcastle City Council plans to slash more than 1,800 workers’ wages by up to a third.

Some workers could lose almost £4,000 a year—and bosses admitted that others could lose even more.

The announcement is part of the Labour council’s £70 million cuts package.

Bosses intend to scrap shift allowances, weekend enhancements and to change the time the night rate of pay begins from 8pm to 10pm.

Newcastle City Unison union branch secretary Paul Gilroy slammed Labour’s cut as “a disgrace”.

“Many of the staff affected care for the most vulnerable adults and children across the city and this is the thanks they get,” he said.

Unions were meeting with their members last week to discuss their response. Gilroy said that “industrial action cannot be ruled out at this stage”.

Bleated

Councillors have bleated on about how they don’t want to cut workers’ pay and conditions, but at the same time insist the council “must become more competitive”.

Yet councillors voted last month to increase the chief executive’s pay by £24,000—more than the average council workers’ salary. The top boss’s pay bracket is now up to £175,000 a year. Four other senior council officers got pay hikes of nearly £20,000.

This was justified by an “increasing managerial challenge” to “take the organisation through a period of significant change”.

Put another way, it’s management’s reward for driving through austerity.

Labour council leader Nick Forbes defended the pay inequality—because it’s not as bad as at some other councils.

Just a fortnight ago deputy leader Joyce McCarty was saying “it is only right” to pay staff enough “to have a decent standard of living”. Councillors at the time were slapping each other on the back for increasing the “Newcastle Living Wage” to £8.25 per hour.

No one would begrudge low paid workers that rise.

But surely it would be better to actually implement the outside of London living wage rate of £8.45 an hour.


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