13 November 2012

 Harrows Councillors deliver a slap in the face to staff as former Leader reneges on Allowance reduction promise

As over 500 Council staff including Librarians, Park Keepers, Meals on Wheels drivers and Residential Care workers prepare themselves for cuts in salary of up to 50% (not including those Council workers earning over £21,000 whose pay will be reduced by 1% next year), Harrow Councils politicians voted unanimously to exclude themselves from any cut in their own personal Member Allowances.


In a display of breathtaking hypocrisy Full Council (8th November 2012) agreed a motion moved by Cllr Graham Henson and the former Leader Cllr Bill Stephenson that restricted a reduction in Councillors Allowances to only a handful of senior members including the Leader and Portfolio Holder positions.

This is despite the commitment that the former Leader Bill Stephenson gave to staff and unions earlier this year that all Councillors would be affected by a similar percentage reduction should an agreement on new terms and conditions be reached with unions.   

In contradiction of this move he was actually quoted in the press (see Harrow Observer website 27 April 2012) at being “relaxed” about making a similar cut in Cllr Allowances following a formal proposal from UNISON that all Councillors should ‘share the pain’ in an act of unity and ‘shoulder some of the financial burden’ by enacting an across the board cut in Allowances.

In an attempt to correct this restrictive motion UNISON sent an urgent amendment to all Councillors reminding them of the huge financial sacrifices the agreement on terms and conditions will mean for thousands of staff in the loss of contractual and basic pay, requesting that the Allowances for all Councillors be reduced by 1%. 

Not one single Councillor of any political persuasion (including Independent Members) spoke in favour of the amendment proving a response to a Branch question posed earlier this year that ‘we are not all in this together’ as UNISON members and Council staff are being asked to carry the personal burden of cuts that most Council Members will not be subject to.   

Despite the commitment given by the previous Leader UNISON have been informed by the new Leader of the Council, Thaya Idaikkadar, that a basic cut for all Councilors could not have been implemented in Harrow due to the rather unique position of its Councillors serving in their positions on a full time basis and living off their Allowances which are positioned below the London Living Wage threshold.  

Whatever the relevance or indeed accuracy of this argument it does not detract from the reneging of the commitment by the former Leader of the Council Bill Stephenson.  This serves as a slap in the face to staff and taints his legacy by a broken promise as he himself returns to a position on the backbenches unaffected by any cut to his Allowance. 



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