0151 666 3040 unison1@wirral.gov.uk

Branch Secretary's speech to Cabinet

Wirral Council Cabinet meeting - 17 December 2015

Paddy Cleary, Wirral UNISON Branch Secretary:

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to address cabinet tonight on behalf of our members.  Members for whom I am accountable too, just as you, yourselves, are accountable to the people of Wirral.

Make no mistake, we find ourselves here once again, due to the horrific cuts imposed on us by the Conservative government.  A Conservative government that is hell bent on shrinking the size of the state and eroding the public services provision in the country – most notable the northern authorities.  A Conservative Government that, as we all know, will phase out the revenue support grant by 2020.

But, and this is a big but, we are not a Conservative led authority. We have a Labour led administration.  A Labour led administration that, once again, is attempting to attack the terms and conditions of its staff – with the threat that if not taken will lead to the loss of between 80-100 jobs!!

Staff who have shouldered more than their share of the cuts since 2010.

Staff who see headlines on payoffs, consultancy charges and agency fees that they can only dream of. This as we allow expertise to walk out of the door that could well do these roles if paid correctly!

Staff that STILL await the senior management review, put on hold until our new Chief Executive was in post, with, may I add, a significant pay rise !

The staff who have, in real terms had a pay cut of between 10-13% since 2010, without taken into account the 4 days unpaid leave, which in itself is ***** pay cut !!

National insurance contributions will be going up for the majority of these staff, the staff that are in the pension scheme, by any average of 15% from April.

Pay protection is in place for some and that finishes in May. People WILL fall off the cliff under a Labour led administration, with the real possibility of defaults and home losses.

Any attack on enhancements, will have a significant effect on staff that provide a service at unsociable hours, but also have credit attached to their income, like mortgages, loans and other finance. These staff will also fall off the cliff.

Services provided by those with essential car usage will grind to a halt as they will seek alternate travel arrangements to carry out day to day duties.

A collective agreement was signed 3 years ago that included not taking a 1% pay rise, a rise that staff will never get back !!

It also included 4 days unpaid leave, which if implemented again, will now have a detrimental effect on the pension provision of staff.  By not imposing the unpaid leave, isn’t giving staff a pay rise it is giving them back what is rightful theirs !!!

This agreement was signed and reluctantly supported under the proviso that it saved jobs, but we have lost, on headcount basis, 40% of staff since 2010!!

During PMQs yesterday, David Cameron stated that wages were rising month on month for last 12 months, faster than inflation – NOT FOR OUR STAFF !!

Those staff that remain in the authority CANNOT afford any detrimental changes to their terms and conditions, they mainly reside on the Wirral and will also face almost a 4% rise in council tax. They are like punch drunk boxers and ENOUGH is ENOUGH

These proposals for consultation also include a potential to lose 85.48 full time equivalent posts alongside the attack on the terms and conditions of staff.  The majority of these come at Girtrell Court, through losses in Care Navigation staff and in our libraries.

As you are all aware the authority has 3 key themes in its 2020 plan for Wirral, the first being to ‘protect the most vulnerable’.

How does removing the facility at Girtrell Court protect the most vulnerable in our society at a relatively small cost saving of £155k a year!

The people who use this service will be forced to seek alternative private arrangements. The continuity of provision and dedication by the staff to these people will be lost and the families, friends and carers will be faced with a very uncertain, difficult and challenging few months, on top of the issues they face on a day to day basis.

Forcing more vulnerable, frail and ill members of the public to self asses by reducing the amount of Care Navigator’s roles once again flies in the face of key themes of the 2020 plan.

40% of the people in Wirral do not have access to a home PC or laptop, figures taken from this report, and I would envisage the majority of these are those that will been asked to self-assess !! It just doesn’t make sense!!

Does pushing 12 libraries into voluntary/community led ownership increase the provision for those that actually need the service in the most deprived areas or does it simply increase the provision in our more affluent areas that have strong volunteer groups?

Will allowing leisure centres to be run by the community actually work or again will this service have to come back under the council umbrella?

A lot of assumptions have been made in these proposals, like the fact schools and landlords would pay for community safety provision when they themselves are cutting their cloth.

Assumptions and saving targets that are over optimistic, just as in  previous years haven’t been met as has led to the use of over £9m from reserves to ‘balance the books’ in this financial year

We will be asked to provide alternatives, and dare I say it, an example would be the reduction in Councillors from 66 to 44 which would save around £300k and could well save a provision like Girtrell Court.

Nobody, least of all me, is burying their head in the sand about the challenging times we face.

We do face horrendous cuts imposed on us by the Conservative Government, but this is a Labour led authority in a borough with 4 Labour MPs, all accountable the constituents of Wirral.

We as a union, along with our friends at UNITE are pleading with Cabinet to look after the vulnerable and to look after the staff of Wirral.

Thank you for your time


Published on: December 22, 2015