Yesterday the council announced that it was saving Â£1 million by re-negotiating staff terms and conditions. Council leader, Julian Bell, said:
With Â£85million of budget reductions having to be achieved it was necessary to find savings in the councils pay bill.
Our people are crucial to us continuing to provide good services in these times of austerity so we have worked hard to be fair and minimise the impact on our lowest paid staff.
I am sure that residents of the borough facing real financial difficulties will acknowledge this was the right thing to do.
Â£1 million sounds like a lot of money but in the context of a Â£130 million pay bill that is not decreasing because of regradings it is less than 1%. With Â£85 million to find the council is upping fees and charges by Â£10 million and taking another Â£10 million out of the voluntary sector and only managing to get Â£1 million out of staff terms and conditions. This really is small beer and illustrates how dependent on the unions Labour is here in Ealing.
I have worked with many fine people at Ealing council but I do have to say that their terms and conditions are rather comfortable compared to those enjoyed by many people working in other fields. Staff do 35 hour weeks. New starters get 27 days holiday which goes up to 30 days after 5 years and 33 days after ten. The chief officers get 33 days on day one. In the 2009/10 financial year non-school staff alone earned Â£1.8 million in overtime, anti-social hours and special responsibility allowances. The difference between these Ts and Cs and the kind of Ts and Cs enjoyed by the bulk of the workers paying council tax in Ealing is worth about 10% of the Â£130 million pay bill, not the 1% the council is going for.
If staff did a 37.5 hour week that would be worth about Â£9 million.
If staff only had 20 days holiday that would be worth at least Â£4 million.
Bellâ€™s Â£1 million, which took him the best part of three years to get, looks like small beer and is Â£500K less than he set out to get. Bell negotiated this deal himself so he has no-one else to blame.