Strikes averted at Wirral Council

Protesters outside Wallasey Town Hall last night. Picture: Vince Clegg / Creative Photography

Protesters outside Wallasey Town Hall last night. Picture: Vince Clegg / Creative Photography

First published in News
Last updated
Wirral Globe: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

THE threat of strikes has been averted after Wirral councillors voted to give enhanced redundancy payments to hundreds of staff who face losing their jobs.

Council chief executive Graham Burgess had strongly recommended the authority reduces its current pay-off packages down to statutory levels.

But when the ruling cabinet met last night, leader Cllr Phil Davies felt this was a step too far and offered a package to those taking redundancy worth 1.8 times their salary up to 54 weeks.

This is down on the previous terms and conditions of 2.2 times salary up to 66 weeks, but more generous than statutory severance.

The move was seen as “a positive step” by public sector unions as it also came with a promise of avoiding compulsory redundancies.

More than 200 anti-cuts protesters arrived to make their feelings known to cabinet councillors, forcing the meeting to be moved from a committee room to the civic hall at Wallasey.

Councillor Davies said: “This administration is committed to avoiding compulsory redundancies as far as possible.

“We need well-motivated people to be a high-performing council.

“But in the light of the council’s extremely difficult financial position, cabinet cannot commit to discretionary costs without identifying where the funding will come from.”

He said discussions with the Government over how the cost of severance can be met led him to understand the council can use £5m to cover the redundancy bill.

Mr Burgess warned that while Whitehall officials indicated the council could use its capital receipts to pay for redundancies, this arrangement was still to be confirmed in writing.

Joe Taylor, branch secretary of Wirral Unison, told cabinet: “I think it’s a positive move. The posts will now go on a voluntary basis.

“If the council was to go for compulsory redundancies, I would have to ballot members for industrial action.

“We have moved away from that now.”

Up to 700 staff could lose their jobs as the authority seeks to find ways to reduce its spending by £77m over this financial year.

The council has sent out more than 3,000 letters to workers informing them their positions are on the "at risk" list.

Last night's cost-cutting was the first phase of a three-year programme that will radically reduce spending by more than £100m.

Comments (16)

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10:49am Fri 8 Feb 13

Thepleb says...

So what do the unions propose if terms and conditions are changed and enhancements are cut for out of hour workers?
So what do the unions propose if terms and conditions are changed and enhancements are cut for out of hour workers? Thepleb
  • Score: 0

11:04am Fri 8 Feb 13

PeteSheff says...

I always thought that the council is firstly responsible to deliver a service. To this end they employ staff to fulfill its duty.

I thought that its responsibilities to its residents would be higher than to its staff.

To this end you would think it would reduce staffing and redundancy costs to deliver services to the old and vulnerable.

But no. It seems generous and not affordable redundancy settlements for its staff are more important than services to the most vulnerable.

A question around the function of the council and who it actually serves needs to be asked..

I dont think I saw this question in the consultation with Wirral Residents.
I always thought that the council is firstly responsible to deliver a service. To this end they employ staff to fulfill its duty. I thought that its responsibilities to its residents would be higher than to its staff. To this end you would think it would reduce staffing and redundancy costs to deliver services to the old and vulnerable. But no. It seems generous and not affordable redundancy settlements for its staff are more important than services to the most vulnerable. A question around the function of the council and who it actually serves needs to be asked.. I dont think I saw this question in the consultation with Wirral Residents. PeteSheff
  • Score: 0

2:46pm Fri 8 Feb 13

antisthenes says...

So let's get this straight Wirral Council are reduced to selling its capital assets to fund the binning off its human assets!

The Council intends to use Capital Receipts to fund enhanced redundancies.

Previously Capital Receipts have been ploughed back into services; such as the £2.5 million realised from the sale of land at Dell Primary schools being re-invested in education services.

Now we learn that they plan to flog off assets to fund a non returning investment in reducing service levels.

I predict an accelerated rush to identify and discount assets which will be sold cheap to speculators.

Wont be surprised when they flog off £10million pounds worth of assets for a knock-down £5million
So let's get this straight Wirral Council are reduced to selling its capital assets to fund the binning off its human assets! The Council intends to use Capital Receipts to fund enhanced redundancies. Previously Capital Receipts have been ploughed back into services; such as the £2.5 million realised from the sale of land at Dell Primary schools being re-invested in education services. Now we learn that they plan to flog off assets to fund a non returning investment in reducing service levels. I predict an accelerated rush to identify and discount assets which will be sold cheap to speculators. Wont be surprised when they flog off £10million pounds worth of assets for a knock-down £5million antisthenes
  • Score: 0

2:57pm Fri 8 Feb 13

PaulCa says...

Another related issue is: where were the protestors when their employer was plundering the bank accounts of the learning disabled people 'under the council's care'? It was all over the Wirral Globe, but I don't recall UNISON making a statement on the matter.

Where were they when a fully paid-up union colleague of theirs was being hounded out of his job and moved out of the way? Again, UNISON staff and members appeared to go AWOL. So much for solidarity.

They were nowhere. Or if they WERE actually protesting whilst trying to change things from the inside, the detail of this never got out to us the public. It either got lost or didn't exist in the first place.

I think many of them (not ALL) must try harder to secure our trust. We're getting the very strong impression that filthy lucre (while important) and the need to cling onto what might be an abusive position (not so important) may be your only considerations - but this suspicion could also be fairly and squarely levelled at the corrupt senior officers.

And if it's true, then you are really in it together, like rottweilers fighting in a sack - and to be viewed by the public, who've had thousands of pounds of their council tax squandered on securing your fellow abusers' 'future job prospects', with no sympathy whatsoever.
Another related issue is: where were the protestors when their employer was plundering the bank accounts of the learning disabled people 'under the council's care'? It was all over the Wirral Globe, but I don't recall UNISON making a statement on the matter. Where were they when a fully paid-up union colleague of theirs was being hounded out of his job and moved out of the way? Again, UNISON staff and members appeared to go AWOL. So much for solidarity. They were nowhere. Or if they WERE actually protesting whilst trying to change things from the inside, the detail of this never got out to us the public. It either got lost or didn't exist in the first place. I think many of them (not ALL) must try harder to secure our trust. We're getting the very strong impression that filthy lucre (while important) and the need to cling onto what might be an abusive position (not so important) may be your only considerations - but this suspicion could also be fairly and squarely levelled at the corrupt senior officers. And if it's true, then you are really in it together, like rottweilers fighting in a sack - and to be viewed by the public, who've had thousands of pounds of their council tax squandered on securing your fellow abusers' 'future job prospects', with no sympathy whatsoever. PaulCa
  • Score: 0

8:24pm Fri 8 Feb 13

Positive thinker says...

Enhanced redundancy payments Why?
Enhanced redundancy payments Why? Positive thinker
  • Score: 0

8:27pm Fri 8 Feb 13

LocaLGovwatcher says...

WBC are very generous with Wirral residents money, treating it as though it were their own. Mind-boggling, to say the least.
WBC are very generous with Wirral residents money, treating it as though it were their own. Mind-boggling, to say the least. LocaLGovwatcher
  • Score: 0

9:35pm Fri 8 Feb 13

MX says...

I understand that after the enhanced redundancy was agreed that the majority of the audience left .
Which is a shame as they might have made the connection later on in the meeting that many of them were facing redundancy because of bad budgets/debts (which were apparently rapidly glossed over) that many sat at the top table were responsible for.
I understand that after the enhanced redundancy was agreed that the majority of the audience left . Which is a shame as they might have made the connection later on in the meeting that many of them were facing redundancy because of bad budgets/debts (which were apparently rapidly glossed over) that many sat at the top table were responsible for. MX
  • Score: 0

6:41am Sat 9 Feb 13

MDRyUK says...

What amazes me about the Cabinet meeting held Thursday night in the Civic Room of the Town Hall is that there weren’t as many staff present to witness events. Sure enough Cabinet approved an enhanced voluntary redundancy scheme at 1.8 times earnings (compared to 2.2 times earnings as per previous scheme). However it was interesting to note this was against the Chief Executive’s recommendation to cabinet that they adopt the statutory scheme instead due to the grave nature of the budgetary financial crisis. But so far for “some staff” arrangements look good on paper and this has curtailed any threatened strike action organised by the union.

I think, sadly, crunch time will come further down the line when figures probably dictate compulsory redundancies are up for negotiation. Reason I say this is quite straight forward. Consider the theme driving this whole debate, saving £39 million from 1st April 2013 to 31st March 2014. Well, sorry to say the figure now has almost doubled when one takes into account toxic debt to be added, albeit a “one off” debt. Okay, but you just try a simple test with a spreadsheet model and determine where the savings are going to come from? I had trouble calculating anything near £39 million a few weeks ago when I used a spreadsheet to try and determine choices outlined by Graham Burgess’s Budget Options underpinned by the What Really Matters? scheme.

In other words as has been commented by the CEO Mr Burgess himself, unfortunately a generous redundancy scheme for staff means further cuts to frontline services.
There are no winners at all. Staff, residents of Wirral Borough we will all suffer badly post 1st April this year. I just hope people making the big decisions at the council tell the truth and consider themes of responsibility and accountability. So far, very regretfully, it would appear they are pushing their luck – to put it mildly!
What amazes me about the Cabinet meeting held Thursday night in the Civic Room of the Town Hall is that there weren’t as many staff present to witness events. Sure enough Cabinet approved an enhanced voluntary redundancy scheme at 1.8 times earnings (compared to 2.2 times earnings as per previous scheme). However it was interesting to note this was against the Chief Executive’s recommendation to cabinet that they adopt the statutory scheme instead due to the grave nature of the budgetary financial crisis. But so far for “some staff” arrangements look good on paper and this has curtailed any threatened strike action organised by the union. I think, sadly, crunch time will come further down the line when figures probably dictate compulsory redundancies are up for negotiation. Reason I say this is quite straight forward. Consider the theme driving this whole debate, saving £39 million from 1st April 2013 to 31st March 2014. Well, sorry to say the figure now has almost doubled when one takes into account toxic debt to be added, albeit a “one off” debt. Okay, but you just try a simple test with a spreadsheet model and determine where the savings are going to come from? I had trouble calculating anything near £39 million a few weeks ago when I used a spreadsheet to try and determine choices outlined by Graham Burgess’s Budget Options underpinned by the What Really Matters? scheme. In other words as has been commented by the CEO Mr Burgess himself, unfortunately a generous redundancy scheme for staff means further cuts to frontline services. There are no winners at all. Staff, residents of Wirral Borough we will all suffer badly post 1st April this year. I just hope people making the big decisions at the council tell the truth and consider themes of responsibility and accountability. So far, very regretfully, it would appear they are pushing their luck – to put it mildly! MDRyUK
  • Score: 0

9:13am Sat 9 Feb 13

Hugo1008 says...

Now I understand, all those Senior Managers and Chief Executives etc,

They must have got together and threatened our useless 66 Councilors that they would go on stike, unless their payoffs are and were enhanced.

Thats how it works, well who would have thought it.

What an understanding bunch of misfits we have here on Wirral.
Now I understand, all those Senior Managers and Chief Executives etc, They must have got together and threatened our useless 66 Councilors that they would go on stike, unless their payoffs are and were enhanced. Thats how it works, well who would have thought it. What an understanding bunch of misfits we have here on Wirral. Hugo1008
  • Score: 0

9:24am Sat 9 Feb 13

MDRyUK says...

I do agree 100% with the picture you are describing PaulCa and respect your opinion.

Perhaps my comment didn't put the ball firmly where it should be right now, back into the court of the Wirral Improvement Board.

Now as a reminder - Mr GB ex-Blackburn and Darwen Council, ex-Liverpool City Council (Social Services) ..... oh yes, and ex "outside" consultant member of Wirral/LGA Improvement Board too!

Remember folks "we're all supposed to be in it together"!

Credibility PaulCa is that what you really mean? Is that What Really Matters?? :-)
I do agree 100% with the picture you are describing PaulCa and respect your opinion. Perhaps my comment didn't put the ball firmly where it should be right now, back into the court of the Wirral Improvement Board. Now as a reminder - Mr GB ex-Blackburn and Darwen Council, ex-Liverpool City Council (Social Services) ..... oh yes, and ex "outside" consultant member of Wirral/LGA Improvement Board too! Remember folks "we're all supposed to be in it together"! Credibility PaulCa is that what you really mean? Is that What Really Matters?? :-) MDRyUK
  • Score: 0

10:41am Sat 9 Feb 13

Growl Tiger says...

PaulCa – The list is now so long, but I think you have missed off Bill Norman and David Taylor Smith (?in process)
PaulCa – The list is now so long, but I think you have missed off Bill Norman and David Taylor Smith (?in process) Growl Tiger
  • Score: 0

12:39pm Sat 9 Feb 13

FarooqB says...

Wonders of Phil Davies !

After revelation of abuse surfaced in 2008, reported by Martin Morton, Mike Fowler and Maura Noone, were suspened, but exonerated by a committee of any abuse and wrong-doings. Guess, who was the chair of that committee. It was the current Council leader, Phil Davies, who gave public statement, and I quote “When becoming leader, I made it clear that in order to move the council forward it was necessary to address honestly and openly where failings had occurred in the past" - as if he did not know.

Next, former Chief Executive, Jim Wilkie was granted permission to leave on 7th June 2012 just hours before the release of a damning Audit Commission report into the conduct of Wirral multimillion pounds Highways contract fiasco. Guess, who voted to allow the council most senior officer to leave and escape justice. It was again, the current Council leader, Phil Davies.

Don't have any high hopes, and expect miracles from this lot. They are "all in this together". Now what's that classic saying, Oh, yes, "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours".
Wonders of Phil Davies ! After revelation of abuse surfaced in 2008, reported by Martin Morton, Mike Fowler and Maura Noone, were suspened, but exonerated by a committee of any abuse and wrong-doings. Guess, who was the chair of that committee. It was the current Council leader, Phil Davies, who gave public statement, and I quote “When becoming leader, I made it clear that in order to move the council forward it was necessary to address honestly and openly where failings had occurred in the past" - as if he did not know. Next, former Chief Executive, Jim Wilkie was granted permission to leave on 7th June 2012 just hours before the release of a damning Audit Commission report into the conduct of Wirral multimillion pounds Highways contract fiasco. Guess, who voted to allow the council most senior officer to leave and escape justice. It was again, the current Council leader, Phil Davies. Don't have any high hopes, and expect miracles from this lot. They are "all in this together". Now what's that classic saying, Oh, yes, "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours". FarooqB
  • Score: 0

3:51pm Sat 9 Feb 13

johnhardaker says...

Despite employing Graham Burgess to pull the council around, the ignoble 66 or at least 38 of them agreed to pay 1.8 EVR instead of statutory redundancy pay ,WHY what is so special about a council worker to merit this gross over payment when normal folk who have been made redundant in Jessops HMV Ethel Austin & others
to numerous to mention get the basic payout & yet council workers get huge payouts, I tell you why because the people running this council have no idea of the real world & don't care where the money comes from apart from the fact that the poor ratepayers will have to pay up & lose assets to feed this greedy & corrupt System needless to say brought in tony blairs government in the early part of 2000.
If anybody can tell me why council workers are special & deserve this treatment please,please let me know.
Regarding all the above comments I agree with them.
Despite employing Graham Burgess to pull the council around, the ignoble 66 or at least 38 of them agreed to pay 1.8 EVR instead of statutory redundancy pay ,WHY what is so special about a council worker to merit this gross over payment when normal folk who have been made redundant in Jessops HMV Ethel Austin & others to numerous to mention get the basic payout & yet council workers get huge payouts, I tell you why because the people running this council have no idea of the real world & don't care where the money comes from apart from the fact that the poor ratepayers will have to pay up & lose assets to feed this greedy & corrupt System needless to say brought in tony blairs government in the early part of 2000. If anybody can tell me why council workers are special & deserve this treatment please,please let me know. Regarding all the above comments I agree with them. johnhardaker
  • Score: 0

4:16pm Sat 9 Feb 13

breadpud says...

why, enhanced! these employees get more benefits than if they worked for the private sector, get in the real world. If your job is not needed then they shouldn't be employed.
why, enhanced! these employees get more benefits than if they worked for the private sector, get in the real world. If your job is not needed then they shouldn't be employed. breadpud
  • Score: 0

5:51pm Sat 9 Feb 13

craigot89 says...

The leaders of unison and unite have let down the workers and residents of Wirral big time.They are willing to sell OUR jobs and services for a redundancy package that won't make up for the complete lack of jobs and opportunities on the Wirral. This year is our best chance to tell our government that we will not pay for the gambling debts of bankers with our jobs and services whilst they carry on living a five star lifestyle. As for the people complaining about the enhanced package, aren't you all tired of competing in a race to the bottom?
The leaders of unison and unite have let down the workers and residents of Wirral big time.They are willing to sell OUR jobs and services for a redundancy package that won't make up for the complete lack of jobs and opportunities on the Wirral. This year is our best chance to tell our government that we will not pay for the gambling debts of bankers with our jobs and services whilst they carry on living a five star lifestyle. As for the people complaining about the enhanced package, aren't you all tired of competing in a race to the bottom? craigot89
  • Score: 0

3:09pm Mon 11 Feb 13

Positive thinker says...

The Union leaders are no ones friend there only in it for themselves and to cause trouble what a shower of clowns thinking they could help
The Union leaders are no ones friend there only in it for themselves and to cause trouble what a shower of clowns thinking they could help Positive thinker
  • Score: 0

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