19 December 2012
Monday saw 600 workers at Caerphilly Country Council walk out in a lunchtime protest, including 350 at the main office Ty Penallta(pictured). Unison and GMB members were protesting at the revelation that against a backdrop of on-going national pay freezes, cuts to services and attacks on pensions, senior managers will be awarding themselves pay rises of up to 35%. Chief executive Anthony O’Sullivan for instance will reportedly see his pay increase from £120,000 p.a. to a whopping £158,000!
This decision was the result of a shady meeting back in September between executives and just five elected councillors. This decision was taken completely over the heads of the other 68 members of the council. The details of the meeting have yet to emerge, but to many on the walkout it was clear that the decision was intended to remain behind closed doors until it was revealed last week.
A union rep on Monday’s demo said “I used to work in a care home which cost £400,000 to run a year. They said they can’t afford that and closed it, but that’s how much it cost to give them these pay rises!”
Another council worker added “It’s not just that but it’s all the cuts they’re making to services as well. This affects ordinary people”.
Tuesday evening also saw a lobby of the council’s leading Labour group by around 100 workers, as well as a solidarity contingents from both Cardiff Tax Office workers and the far-off Carmarthen County Council Unison branch. After a 5 hour meeting, the group issued a statement apologising and announcing “an investigation into the possibility of rescinding the decision based upon independent legal advice.” The statement also included a commitment to ensuring “the full council will decide on remuneration levels for senior managers” from now on.
Clearly this is a fight that can be won. Some are already claiming victory, but now trade unionists have to push to see words turned to action, and step up the campaign as soon as possible to ensure the pay rises are completely rescinded.
Send messages of support and solidarity to firstname.lastname@example.org.