NOTEBOOK: COUNCIL MANAGERS £6000 PAY RISE IS OBSCENE WHEN WORKERS FACE PAY FREEZE

West Dunbartonshire Council Chief Executive Joyce White’s “fill your boots” Christmas message to management team.

By BILL HEANEY

The management team at West Dunbartonshire Council is about to have a White Christmas with all the traditional perks and trimmings.

Joyce White, the Chief Executive Officer, is said to have ordered big, black Santa boots all round for her nearest and dearest colleagues in their Church Street headquarters.

The ebullient Ms White has arranged for eight of them to receive a salary increase of £6,000 a year in order to to fill their new footwear with local taxpayers’ hard-earned money.

One of the main purposes of this outbreak of extreme generosity – the council has gone from being cash-strappoed to a loadsamoney local authority – is to make these managers more “agile” as they go about their business in the middle of the current coronavirus pandemic.

Given that they are receiving this cash bonanza, it is unlikely that these eight lucky people will have any  problems at all with their agility.

You will recognise them over the festive season in the streets, pubs and restaurants, demonstrating this by jumping up and down with delight.

The public they are here to serve are living in one of the most deprived areas of Scotland. They are poverty stricken on all fronts – cash, fuel and food fronts.

Santa Claus will have to be asking Rudolph to take a detour to the Food for Thought food bank whose busy volunteers are run off their feet in in their pop up shop in the Artizan Centre in Dumbarton.

These admirable volunteers are busy picking up the essentials to provide a Christmas dinner for hard-pressed families in the many deprived areas where too many people literally don’t have a light, a loaf or a pint of milk.

On the other hand, our council officials – and councillors, of course, the ones who get money for old rope  these days, doing Mrs White’s bidding from their own firesides – will be feasting on turkey and trimmings till their bellies burst.

These people, who will earn around £100,000 (£92,017-£95,872) a year apart from Mrs White, whose income is that plus another £40,000, will have an ample sufficiency of all they need to make theirs a Christmas to remember.

They have form for that, of course. Of three or four courses actually.

We found out to their great displeasure that some of them dined on T-bone steaks, monkfish, Rioja and champagne in fine dining restaurants and posh hotels with a contractor seeking work and broke the council’s own procurement rules.

Turkey and ham, devils on horseback and maybe even a bottle of champagne to wash down the roast potatoes should be no problem to them come December 25.

Nor should a large steak pie and a bottle two of whisky dent the the £6000 flowing into their bank balance come New Year.

So, how has all this come about then?

It is because in the SNP administration in West Dunbartonshire we have a basket case council and a weak as water opposition, who wouldn’t say boo to a Christmas goose.

They have all fallen asleep on a sledge and are sinking deep into the winter sleet and deep snow, dragging the rest of us down with them.

Cllr Jim Bollan of the Community Party, pictured right, is the only elected member who has had the courage to make this disgraceful situation public.

For this he was shockingly got banned from attending two meetings.

This has been a terrible year for most people. Many have lost their jobs and even their lives in Covid wards and care homes.

Many more are on furlough payments which have squeezed their income and any savings they had  to the limit.

Their credit cards are maxed out. Family debts are piling up all around the place. People are living in fear of eviction because they can’t pay their rent. They anticipate being thrown out into the street.

No one wants their child to be the little one that Santa Claus forgot.

How is West Dunbartonshire Council dealing with this?  They are currently instructing Sheriff Officers to collect any money that is owed to them. It’s their duty, they say, to collect that cash.

“It’s public money after all,” they told one person who inquired why there was no amnesty for people during the pandemic.

I think that tells us all we need to know about them. The extra £6000 they will be stuffing in their satchels from January is also public money, but they seem not to have given a thought to that.

  • Here are a couple of comments about this: Jackie Baillie MSP for Dumbarton, said: “It isn’t right that senior council officers are getting to enjoy such a sizeable pay increase at a time when so many local people are facing long term unemployment and many public sector workers are facing pay freezes. This has been an incredibly difficult year for a lot of people and COVID-19 has become just as much of a financial crisis as a health one. I would have hoped that West Dunbartonshire Council could have found a better way to spend tax-payers money than giving their senior officers a pay rise.”
  • Community Party councillor Jim Bollan said: “”Awarding 8 senior officers a rise of £6,000, because their job title changed from Strategic Lead to Chief Officer, to bring their salary up to £93,982 is grossly insensitive, disproportionate, and unfair. Low paid Council workers like carers and cleaners have only a wage freeze to look forward to. More power will also be centralised in the hands of the CEO with this so called “agile structure.  Decisions taken behind closed doors. No press or public allowed. Only 3 SNP and 2 Labour councillors allowed at meeting. No reports circulated to the other opposition Cllr’s. No minutes of the meeting circulated.  This is how equality and transparency look in West Dunbartonshire in 2020.”
  • Oh, and did you notice that UNICEF consider poverty and hunger is so bad for children in this country that they are going to provide cash for a meals service for children over the holidays? Ed.

@@@@@

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon – her “bonus for heroes” was a political con.

How must the employees of West Dunbartonshire Council feel about the news that the management team I have written about above will be receiving a salary increase of £6000?

Especially since that is half the annual wage of  council care workers and cleaners, the ones who were praised to high heaven by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as heroes of the pandemic .

That money is more than half a cleaner or care worker’s wages and a tenth of the remuneration Cllr Jonathan McColl, leader of the SNP administration, receives for his council work, which has made West Dunbartonshire look like a basket case.

He pockets around £45,000 for that job and for his membership of the Health Board, where he has been as useful as a chocolate watch to campaigners for better health services.

Cllr McColl, pictured right,  believes that the Vale of Leven Hospital – much to the dismay of the patients, nurses and other staff employed there – has never been in danger of closure.

And, as is his wont, he lied that plans were never afoot to close two dementia wards. His form for being economical with the truth is widely known in this community.

Democracy is a flower that has died in the field of local government in Dumbarton during his watch as the head gardener. McColl has no objections to the use of weed killer as a tool for propaganda.

It is now widely agreed that his boss Nicola’s £500 “bonus” for frontline workers was one big con, a piece of political posturing designed to make Boris Johnston mad when she asked him to pick up the tax bill.

Sturgeon has blotted her copybook so often recently that she must surely be planning to give her East Wing office in St Andrew’s House a traditional Hogmanay clean to make things comfortable for her successor come next May’s election.

One of the first things she will have to cope with follows on from her £500 burach. She can be a sleekit wee thing.

Trade Unions representing the bulk of the Local Government workforce today submitted their 2021 pay claim to COSLA.

The claim calls for:
• A one-year settlement that runs for the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022
• A £2,000 flat rate increase to all spinal column points, or 6%, whichever is greater (based on a 37 hour working week).
• An underpinning minimum rate of pay of £10.50 per hour.
• A separate, additional payment towards pay restoration.
• An equivalent percentage or, the median paid where the base salary increase is paid as a flat rate, uprating of all allowances.
• No less than parity with other Local Government bargaining groups.
• All professional costs associated with the role to be met by the employer.
• A commitment to exploring ways in which to achieve a no-detriment reduction in the working week.
• An assessment of the pay gap against all protected characteristics.
 Surely she can’t be thinking of putting the poor mouth on it and ducking out of meeting the government’s commitment in that regard?
If West Dunbartonshire Council can award £6000 salary increases all round for its management team then there must be enough cash in the kitty to to introduce a minimum wage of £10.50 an hour.
Johanna Baxter, UNISON head of local government, said: “The moral and economic imperatives for providing local government workers with a substantial pay increase are overwhelming.
“In a country where over 230,000 children are living in poverty and we face an economic depression like no other there is no better way to lift people out of poverty and stimulate economic recovery than putting money into the pockets of low-paid workers who have already borne the brunt of a decade of austerity, it just takes political will to do so.
“These workers have gone above and beyond in keeping us safe and our services going during the period of the pandemic. No longer can they be treated as the poor relations of the public sector when it comes to decent pay and reward.”

Leave a Reply