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Coventry single status 'deal' - but same rip-off
AFTER THE massive rejection of Coventry council's single status proposals last year by the workforce, council managers have come up with a new 'deal'.
Rob Windsor, Coventry East Socialist Party
However, it is not a deal but a proposal that the council's chief executive put into the local paper, without any consultation or negotiation with the trade unions.
The last deal proposed losses of £8,000 to £10,000 a year for some staff. The new proposal claims to have dealt with 'anomalies' by 'assimilating' staff who will continue to receive cost of living and incremental increases.
The number of 'gainers' under the deal has increased by 62 out of a workforce of 10,500 affected by single status. The official number of 'gainers' is now 3,659. Council officers say this could increase further with successful appeals.
The stark fact remains that there will still officially be 1,666 losers. In the case of environmental health staff who work late hours to deal with noise complaints, the council's letter to union reps says that the worst loss of over £10.000 a year will now be reduced to £8,000!
The Socialist Party and members and supporters who work for the council have always argued that with the cost of housing and living expenses constantly going up, one loser is a loser too many. 1,666 workers facing pay cuts and pay freezes is an utter disgrace.
Shiny suit - Lousy deal
The council have simply tried to put a shiny suit on a lousy deal. Staff will not be fooled by this but it is clear that council officers are determined to try to get this accepted before a general election.
The dithering approach of various trade union leaders has given the council chiefs confidence. They should have walked away from negotiations on the first deal, let alone this. After all, no union should ever acquiesce to pay cuts for approaching 20% of it's workforce.
Throughout negotiations, a number of union chiefs have failed to inspire their members. Clearly they are under national pressure to help implement single status and thereby cover New Labour's back for a general election.
Socialist Party members in unions like UNISON have consistently rejected single status and its cousin in the NHS, Agenda for Change, as a means of dismantling national pay agreements under the guise of increasing wages for the low-paid. But low-paid workers also suffer through cuts in allowances.
This deal is clearly designed to force staff out. This would then open the way to councils using cheap, non-union agency staff. This would make it more easy to privatise services.
Because the union leaders have continued to negotiate a lousy deal, there is now a real risk that council chiefs will try to impose it, even if it is rejected again at a ballot. Unions are now talking of a "robust response". This needs to include a campaign to mobilise the council workforce for industrial action if imposition is threatened.
At the moment, full details of the proposals and the trade union response are patchy, we hope to have more news soon.
In The Socialist 15 January 2005: