Greenwich Council

Agenda item

Motion "Public sector pay cap"

Motion proposed by Councillors Chris Kirby, Denise Hyland, Sarah Merrill, Danny Thorpe, Aidan Smith, Maureen O’Mara, Averil Lekau, Denise Scott-McDonald and Christine Grice

Decision:

Resolved –

 

This Council notes that public sector pay has been restricted since 2011/12 when the Conservative-led government imposed a two year pay freeze. Council also notes that this pay freeze has been followed by a pay cap that restricted public sector pay rises to 1%. Council further notes that the pay cap has led to a real-terms pay cut of between 3 and 7 per cent for front-line staff across the public sector.

 

This Council asserts that the austerity policies of the Conservative government have led to severe cuts to Local Government budgets around the country, adding ever more pressure onto frontline services.

 

Therefore, Council is mandated to write to the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer to make the case for:

 

        The lifting of the public sector pay cap

        A financial settlement from central government that provides the funds for local authorities to meet the additional costs associated with the lifting of the pay cap

        The government to work with Local Authorities and Trade Unions to fully fund the ‘pay-spine review’, to ensure that Local Government pay structures are fit for purpose

 

Minutes:

Councillors who had declared a Personal and Financial interest in the item left the meeting for the duration of the item.

 

The Mayor agreed to a member of the public addressing the Council on the motion.

 

The Council was addressed by Danny Hoggan, a representative of Unite trade union.  He commented on some of the Council’s achievements; he highlighted in comparison that neighbouring Bexley Council would not pay the living wage. He said that in real terms the workers had actually lost 20% since 2010.  He said there needed to be a change and the Labour Manifesto had been a progressive change which had been rewarded by increased majorities at the election. He said the real fault lay with those who did not pay their share of taxes. He felt that Grenfell gave the Conservatives no moral right, while that Conservative Council was sitting on £300 million of reserves instead of paying their workers and looking after social care. He commented on the Conservative Government’s maladministration and said they were morally bankrupt. He said the Royal Borough of Greenwich should be a benchmark, and should remedy the conditions of the GSPlus workers. He fully supported the motion.

 

Councillor Kirby, Cabinet Member for Human Resources, Co-operatives and Social Enterprise moved the motion. He thanked Danny Hoggan and the others present in the gallery and who had been outside the Town Hall. He spoke of the effect of systematic cuts to local authority services, and suggested they were designed to fundamentally alter the shape of local government. He said the cap on wages was an effective pay cut for public sector workers. He said it increased stress, drove recruitment and retention pressures, and was bad for business. Councillor Kirby said the motion explicitly said it was time for the pay cap to end and called on Government for the money for the pay rise.

 

Councillor Denise Hyland, Leader of the Council, seconded the motion. She noted the effect of the pay freeze over 7 years She noted the Government’s proposed offer but as it was below the rate of inflation it was not really a pay rise. She detailed the benefits of lifting the pay cap, in particular with regard to recruitment and retention, and the effect on the NHS. Councillor Hyland commented that Greenwich was a fantastic place to live and work and study but if you were a care worker on very low wages it was not tenable.

 

Councillor Mark Elliott proposed the amendment to the motion, as detailed in the published Tabled Items agenda. He explained that the amendment was proposed because it was felt it had left out the context of the economic strategy to reduce the deficit, that those on the lowest income in the public sector had not been subject to the pay cap, and that the cap prevented further greater cuts and greater job losses. It was highlighted that Government in September had agreed to a more flexible approach to public sector pay from April 2018. Councillor Elliott clarified that the proposed amendment called for this flexibility to be implemented in a balanced way so that they could recruit and retain staff but in a way that was affordable and fair to the tax payer.

 

The amendment was seconded by Councillor Matt Clare.

 

Councillor Chris Kirby did not accept the amendment.

 

The amendment was debated with Councillors Christine Grice, Aidan Smith, Chris Kirby, and Mick Hayes speaking against the amendment.

 

Councillor Matt Clare spoke in support of the amendment. He stated the Conservatives were in favour of the removal of the pay cap.

 

The amendment was put to the vote and with 7 in favour and 18 against it was not carried.

 

Councillor Spencer Drury spoke on the motion. He said he had every sympathy with those asking to raise the pay cap as it had gone on too long, but the question was how would they pay for that measure and he commented on the potential solutions.  Councillor Drury suggested that the motion could not be supported by the Conservatives because of the way it had been worded.

 

Councillor Chris Kirby closed the debate.

 

The motion was put to the vote and with 18 votes in favour, and 7 abstentions it was

 

Resolved –

 

This Council notes that public sector pay has been restricted since 2011/12 when the Conservative-led government imposed a two year pay freeze. Council also notes that this pay freeze has been followed by a pay cap that restricted public sector pay rises to 1%. Council further notes that the pay cap has led to a real-terms pay cut of between 3 and 7 per cent for front-line staff across the public sector.

 

This Council asserts that the austerity policies of the Conservative government have led to severe cuts to Local Government budgets around the country, adding ever more pressure onto frontline services.

 

Therefore, Council is mandated to write to the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer to make the case for:

 

        The lifting of the public sector pay cap

        A financial settlement from central government that provides the funds for local authorities to meet the additional costs associated with the lifting of the pay cap

        The government to work with Local Authorities and Trade Unions to fully fund the ‘pay-spine review’, to ensure that Local Government pay structures are fit for purpose

 

Supporting documents: