A deal between the union bosses and the new Labour Administration was always going to come fairly quickly once the elections were over. The industrial action was political from the start, with the senior union negotiators all Labour Party people. However the recently announced deal doesn't mark the end of this sordid story. The cost of the deal is £2.8M a year, and this comes on top of the very large budget gap that the council faces in order to balance the books. The previous Conservative administration made terms and condition changes to keep more people in work and to protect the services that residents rely on.
The price of the Labour/Union deal will be lost jobs and services. However we won't know exactly who and what will be axed until November when next year's draft council budget is published.
Labour and the union bosses are keeping that information under wraps until after the council staff are balloted on the pay deal. It is very underhand to present this as good news to staff and ask them to vote on it and then a month later reveal to them exactly what it costs to pay for it in lost jobs and services.
We have already seen the start of Labour's cuts hitting the front line. The pay agreement alone is the equivalent of 10 Oaklands Pool closures.
It’s a deal that favours better paid staff and it is likely that it will be lower paid staff that bear the brunt of the job cuts.
Under the Conservative Council those earning less than £17,500pa (40% of staff) received a pay rise. The Conservatives were offering to protect those on £22,000pa and under from pay cuts and restore previous pay cuts, backdating them until last summer. It is ironic that the vast majority of bin men would have been better off under that arrangement, by about £600 compared with Labour/Union deal. Labour and unions were happy to use bin men for their own means during the strike but have secured them a worse deal.
This new deal will also be cold comfort to those staff which the union leaders managed to convince were due thousands and thousands of pounds if they took the council to court.
The tragic outcome of this long political campaign will be felt not only by staff themselves when Labour announce their extra job losses but by the residents of the city who will see more of their services axed.