Tag Archives: Unite

Council to launch inquiry into £6m expenses bill; 8,500 council staff to have contracts renegotiated

Council Leader Paul Scriven has promised an inquiry after it was revealed that the Council’s employee expenses bill totalled £6m for last year.

The Liberal Democrats say a crackdown on “perks” such as non-essential staff training, car allowances and hospitality has saved half a million pounds compared to when Labour were in control of the council.

Earlier this week unions were notified that up to 8,500 council employees would face changes to their employment conditions, including pay freezes and removal of sick pay.

Councillor Simon Clement-Jones, Liberal Democrat Cabinet member for Finance, said: “Whilst some essential training and transport costs are required by vital front line staff such as care workers for example, the Council is spending too much on other unnecessary employee perks.

“If we are to deal with the reductions in our budget whilst trying to protect vital front line services, then Labour councillors in Sheffield must not block our plans. This might not be unpopular with the Unions, but prioritising spend on front line services instead of employee car allowances and subsistence payments is the right thing to do. Labour should put local taxpayers before their Trade Union paymasters.”

It seems, however, that the unions are less concerned with the cuts to perks, as they are with the size of the hospitality bill at a time when 8,500 council employees are likely to have their contracts re-evaluated.

Speaking to the Star, Mark Keeling, Unite convenor at Sheffield Council, said: “Our members are facing a bleak future. If the gravy train is still running for those at the top, it’s time it hit the buffers.

“It’s not the job of officers to wine and dine using the public purse.
“The council’s job is to provide services and employment.”

The GMB union revealed this week that they had received notice that 8,500 workers at Sheffield City Council would have their contracts renegotiated. The council say that this does not necessarily mean 8,500 will lose their jobs. A spokesperson for the council said yesterday “There haven’t been any figures put on that.

“The Council has not issued staff with redundancy notices and it is misleading to suggest that we have. What we have communicated to the Trade Unions is, that as part of our ongoing negotiations with them, we are following national guidance.

“There is a process that, by law, we have to follow and certain formalities have to be complied with and that includes issuing what is known as a HR1 notice to the Government and shared with the Trade Unions. We are now at that stage.

“This statutory notice is part of the formal and technical process when two parties haven’t yet reached a collective agreement. We are still continuing to meet with the Trade Unions and are still working towards a collective agreement. ”

The changes which are being negotiated with trade unions include the removal of the first three days of a workers’ sick pay, a pay freeze and the offer of career breaks and voluntary early retirement.

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Video: “Nick Clegg is not welcome in Sheffield” – City responds to emergency budget

Hundreds gathered outside Sheffield Town Hall this afternoon to protest against the public sector cuts outlined in the coalition government’s first budget.

Doug Patterson of Unite recieved the warmest welcome of the day, canonised for his ongoing battle to reverse the governments decision to withdraw their £80m loan to Sheffield Forgemasters.

Sheffield Labour Party Chair Paul Wood recieved a frostier reception, and was heckled by activists in the crowd for New Labour’s centrism. A message from Labour MP for Sheffield South East Clive Betts was read out to a murmur of boos, although Central MP Paul Blomfield’s message was better recieved.

Constant throughout the speeches was a sense of betrayal. A feeling that Nick Clegg, once the golden boy of Sheffield, has sold the north down the river, to the extent that Patterson declared him persona-non-grata in the Steel City. A further demonstration outside his Eccleshall constituency home has been mooted, but as I understand it it’s pretty hard to catch him in these days.

Lib Dem council leader Paul Scriven, who has been on telly an awful lot this weekend loyally defending the coalition’s actions, did not attend the protest.

In other news, fresh faced education minister Michael Gove will be opening a new building near the Peace Gardens on Thursday afternoon at 1pm. I’d be surprised if he didn’t recieve a warm, Sheffield welcome.