Brighton and Hove council staff in strike threat

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Thousands of public sector workers could strike in a pay dispute labelled as “dynamite” by unions.

Brighton and Hove City Council wants to overhaul special allowances paid to threequarters of its 8,000-strong workforce.

Union representatives say £4,000 of a binman’s £17,000 annual salary is made up of these payments.

Local authority bosses claim the current system of extra payments, which affects 6,000 staff, is “no longer fit for purpose”.

But union representatives blasted the reform, claiming it was intended to reduce the pay bill at a time of Government cuts.

They added it could leave low-paid workers, such as binmen, care workers, security guards and school staff, worse off.

If an agreement is not reached within two months, then the local authority could sack all its affected staff and re-employ them on its preferred new terms.

Mark Turner, branch secretary of the GMB union, said: “This is dynamite. Depending on how the agreement goes, this could bring down the political administration.

“We could be looking at industrial action at some point this year.

“We will listen to what they are proposing and then we will let our members decide on any course of action.”

Town Hall bosses said a complex pay system was formed when three separate authorities were merged to create Brighton and Hove City Council in 1997.

This had been further complicated with a number of services, such as refuse and recycling, being brought back in-house from private firms.

It means about £3 million a year is spent on allowances and additional payments.

After months of behind-the-scenes discussions, the council will draw up exact plans and set itself a negotiating deadline of March.

If this is not met, council bosses will take “all necessary steps” to complete the reform by October.

This could include forcing through changes without the consent of workers or unions.

Politicians are expected to hand responsibility for negotiations to officers at the council’s policy and resources committee on Thursday.

Penny Thompson, the council’s chief executive, said in a statement: “We’re communicating with staff and entering into negotiations with the unions about how we work towards a clear and consistent pay structure across the whole organisation.”

Driving force Union representatives claimed the “driving force” behind the move was to reduce the pay bill.

However, a town hall report said it was “not seeking to achieve reductions” on the overall wage bill.

It added: “Any change will need to balance the revised pay bill with the potential cost of any financial recompense for employees who may see a reduction in actual pay.”

The additional sums, such as shift allowance, for working outside normal hours, and overtime, will be reviewed and potentially abolished.

Among those sums to be reviewed are agreements made after the last mass industrial strike action by refuse and recycling staff in 2010.

However, bosses said pay for teaching assistants, which was agreed by an independent mediator in 2005, will not be affected.

Mr Turner labelled senior politicians “gutless” for passing responsibility for a decision on to officers.

He admitted the current pay structure was a “mish-mash”, adding: “Some people will be better off but some people will be worse off.”

Council leader Jason Kitcat said: “This is about creating a fair and modern pay structure for the city.”

When asked about potential industrial action, Coun Kitcat said: “I sincerely hope not. I always hope industrial relations are good and I’m committed to open conversations with staff and unions.”

Comments (23)

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5:54pm Tue 22 Jan 13

charlie smirke says...

What's a striek ??? Don't you people check anything?
What's a striek ??? Don't you people check anything? charlie smirke
  • Score: 0

6:11pm Tue 22 Jan 13

mimseycal says...

We will hand the mess over to the officers and if they don't get us what we want, we will sack all the people who will not accept the restructuring, we will sack them all.

Wonderful Cllr Kitcat ... one way of ensuring your industrial relations are good. You'll tee off all your workers and your officers ...
We will hand the mess over to the officers and if they don't get us what we want, we will sack all the people who will not accept the restructuring, we will sack them all. Wonderful Cllr Kitcat ... one way of ensuring your industrial relations are good. You'll tee off all your workers and your officers ... mimseycal
  • Score: 0

6:14pm Tue 22 Jan 13

Fight_Back says...

If, as the council claim, this isn't to reduce the wage bill then the answer is simple - just roll up all those extras into the basic salary and do away with the extras. Of course it's a ploy to implement savings !!!!!

I'm not a union supporter but maybe they could do what Labour and the Tories don't have the guts to do - work together to get rid of the Greens.
If, as the council claim, this isn't to reduce the wage bill then the answer is simple - just roll up all those extras into the basic salary and do away with the extras. Of course it's a ploy to implement savings !!!!! I'm not a union supporter but maybe they could do what Labour and the Tories don't have the guts to do - work together to get rid of the Greens. Fight_Back
  • Score: 0

6:30pm Tue 22 Jan 13

tinkerbellfairy says...

really short sighted to keep cutting wages - it just means that people pay less in and can claim Housing/Council tax benefit and WTC !!
really short sighted to keep cutting wages - it just means that people pay less in and can claim Housing/Council tax benefit and WTC !! tinkerbellfairy
  • Score: 0

6:43pm Tue 22 Jan 13

risingphoenix says...

tinkerbellfairy wrote:
really short sighted to keep cutting wages - it just means that people pay less in and can claim Housing/Council tax benefit and WTC !!
But that's the point...

Subsidise the employer (public or private) at the expense of the taxpayer!
[quote][p][bold]tinkerbellfairy[/bold] wrote: really short sighted to keep cutting wages - it just means that people pay less in and can claim Housing/Council tax benefit and WTC !![/p][/quote]But that's the point... Subsidise the employer (public or private) at the expense of the taxpayer! risingphoenix
  • Score: 0

6:53pm Tue 22 Jan 13

Roundbill says...

Ooh, public sector industrial action - how very retro! I'm holding out for a Showaddywaddy revival.
Ooh, public sector industrial action - how very retro! I'm holding out for a Showaddywaddy revival. Roundbill
  • Score: 0

7:11pm Tue 22 Jan 13

mimseycal says...

risingphoenix wrote:
tinkerbellfairy wrote:
really short sighted to keep cutting wages - it just means that people pay less in and can claim Housing/Council tax benefit and WTC !!
But that's the point...

Subsidise the employer (public or private) at the expense of the taxpayer!
And then introduce more cuts as they cannot sustain the benefit bill ;)
[quote][p][bold]risingphoenix[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]tinkerbellfairy[/bold] wrote: really short sighted to keep cutting wages - it just means that people pay less in and can claim Housing/Council tax benefit and WTC !![/p][/quote]But that's the point... Subsidise the employer (public or private) at the expense of the taxpayer![/p][/quote]And then introduce more cuts as they cannot sustain the benefit bill ;) mimseycal
  • Score: 0

7:40pm Tue 22 Jan 13

imnotpc says...

Let them go on strike,who cares? Nobody would notice the difference anyway lol.Typical council workers...waste of space.Don't cry when your arse is booted up the road hahahahah
Let them go on strike,who cares? Nobody would notice the difference anyway lol.Typical council workers...waste of space.Don't cry when your arse is booted up the road hahahahah imnotpc
  • Score: 0

7:48pm Tue 22 Jan 13

Maxwell's Ghost says...

Cllr Kitkat, what in your opinion is a 'modern' pay structure.
This is another example of your inability to articulate your point.
There is no such thing as a 'modern' pay structure.
Do you mean low wages? That is my interpretation of modern but maybe you have a different interpretation of that word, in the same way the word consultation actually means ignore the public.
Please resign before the binmen drive you out of town as they have many, many other councillors in the past.
Cllr Kitkat, what in your opinion is a 'modern' pay structure. This is another example of your inability to articulate your point. There is no such thing as a 'modern' pay structure. Do you mean low wages? That is my interpretation of modern but maybe you have a different interpretation of that word, in the same way the word consultation actually means ignore the public. Please resign before the binmen drive you out of town as they have many, many other councillors in the past. Maxwell's Ghost
  • Score: 0

8:13pm Tue 22 Jan 13

SGK2000 says...

If they sack staff, will they get the huge payoffs that senior staff are paid when they leave?
If they sack staff, will they get the huge payoffs that senior staff are paid when they leave? SGK2000
  • Score: 0

8:20pm Tue 22 Jan 13

vivelavive says...

Maxwell's Ghost wrote:
Cllr Kitkat, what in your opinion is a 'modern' pay structure.
This is another example of your inability to articulate your point.
There is no such thing as a 'modern' pay structure.
Do you mean low wages? That is my interpretation of modern but maybe you have a different interpretation of that word, in the same way the word consultation actually means ignore the public.
Please resign before the binmen drive you out of town as they have many, many other councillors in the past.
Well put. Particularly the point on public consultation.
[quote][p][bold]Maxwell's Ghost[/bold] wrote: Cllr Kitkat, what in your opinion is a 'modern' pay structure. This is another example of your inability to articulate your point. There is no such thing as a 'modern' pay structure. Do you mean low wages? That is my interpretation of modern but maybe you have a different interpretation of that word, in the same way the word consultation actually means ignore the public. Please resign before the binmen drive you out of town as they have many, many other councillors in the past.[/p][/quote]Well put. Particularly the point on public consultation. vivelavive
  • Score: 0

10:59pm Tue 22 Jan 13

inadaptado says...

imnotpc wrote:
Let them go on strike,who cares? Nobody would notice the difference anyway lol.Typical council workers...waste of space.Don't cry when your arse is booted up the road hahahahah
I think my IQ actually dropped just by reading your comment.
[quote][p][bold]imnotpc[/bold] wrote: Let them go on strike,who cares? Nobody would notice the difference anyway lol.Typical council workers...waste of space.Don't cry when your arse is booted up the road hahahahah[/p][/quote]I think my IQ actually dropped just by reading your comment. inadaptado
  • Score: 0

11:07pm Tue 22 Jan 13

NickBrt says...

Jason's showing his true colours isn't he? Taking money from Council workers and giving it to himself like he talked about last week. What a parasite. He said if he got paid he'd do a better job, presumably he acknowledges if he takes money from workers they will do a worse job. Has that man got no more sense then the cheap chocolate bar that he got his name from?
Jason's showing his true colours isn't he? Taking money from Council workers and giving it to himself like he talked about last week. What a parasite. He said if he got paid he'd do a better job, presumably he acknowledges if he takes money from workers they will do a worse job. Has that man got no more sense then the cheap chocolate bar that he got his name from? NickBrt
  • Score: 0

1:08am Wed 23 Jan 13

rolivan says...

Hands on workers should be protected and paper shufflers reduced in number there are so many different departments the people who answer the calls dont know who to put you through to.
Hands on workers should be protected and paper shufflers reduced in number there are so many different departments the people who answer the calls dont know who to put you through to. rolivan
  • Score: 0

7:48am Wed 23 Jan 13

HJarrs says...

Union rightly rattles sabres at the starting point for the negotiation of terms and conditions. Nothing wrong with that and I hope they come to an amicable agreement without recourse to industrial action.

However, the union is a Labour Party funder and I would hope that politics does not come into this as the greens are the closest to many unions in terms of policies and if they get turfed out, Labour will do them no favours and under the Tories they will all end up privatised if they have a job at all!
Union rightly rattles sabres at the starting point for the negotiation of terms and conditions. Nothing wrong with that and I hope they come to an amicable agreement without recourse to industrial action. However, the union is a Labour Party funder and I would hope that politics does not come into this as the greens are the closest to many unions in terms of policies and if they get turfed out, Labour will do them no favours and under the Tories they will all end up privatised if they have a job at all! HJarrs
  • Score: 0

8:39am Wed 23 Jan 13

mimseycal says...

Not really a question of reaching an agreement though is it HJarrs. By the sound of things, either you accept within two months or we sack you all and redeploy you under the new terms, like it or not, doesn't really leave any room for discussion ;)
Not really a question of reaching an agreement though is it HJarrs. By the sound of things, either you accept within two months or we sack you all and redeploy you under the new terms, like it or not, doesn't really leave any room for discussion ;) mimseycal
  • Score: 0

9:01am Wed 23 Jan 13

Tallywhacker says...

mimseycal wrote:
Not really a question of reaching an agreement though is it HJarrs. By the sound of things, either you accept within two months or we sack you all and redeploy you under the new terms, like it or not, doesn't really leave any room for discussion ;)
And what happens if after being forced onto new contracts they don't come back? And how much are they paying consultants because the council won't have worked this out by themselves. When I worked for the council many years ago they came out with a similar idea and offered us a lower pay than were already getting. This with the help of a consultant that they paid £50k for who had used all the wrong pay scales and information. So whats the going rares for consultants now, a lot more than the £50,000 from over 25 years ago I would guess.
[quote][p][bold]mimseycal[/bold] wrote: Not really a question of reaching an agreement though is it HJarrs. By the sound of things, either you accept within two months or we sack you all and redeploy you under the new terms, like it or not, doesn't really leave any room for discussion ;)[/p][/quote]And what happens if after being forced onto new contracts they don't come back? And how much are they paying consultants because the council won't have worked this out by themselves. When I worked for the council many years ago they came out with a similar idea and offered us a lower pay than were already getting. This with the help of a consultant that they paid £50k for who had used all the wrong pay scales and information. So whats the going rares for consultants now, a lot more than the £50,000 from over 25 years ago I would guess. Tallywhacker
  • Score: 0

10:21am Wed 23 Jan 13

wippasnapper says...

Thousands of public sector workers could strike in a pay cut dispute you have my support!
As Brighton and Hove City Council wants to overhaul special allowances paid to three-quarters of its 8,000-strong workforce.
Union representatives say £4,000 of a bin man’s £17,000 annual salary is made up of these payments.
Local authority bosses claim the current system of extra payments, which affects 6,000 staff, is “no longer fit for purpose”.
Really so is it fit for purpose that the council leader gets a staggering £40,221 a year & travel expenses and a subsistence allowance and dependant carer’s allowance.
Will there special allowances also be on the chopping board “NO” because according to the leader of the council “They’d do a better jog on a full salary” with there special allowances!
Talk about calling the kettle black regular councilors receive £11,463 basic allowance. Committee chairs receive an extra £10,967, and deputy leader £17,254 and the leader of the council £28,758. and they want to take away special allowances from there lower paid staff.
Thank god the Green Party is not running this country’s finances just think of the mess we’d be in if they where.
Thousands of public sector workers could strike in a pay cut dispute you have my support! As Brighton and Hove City Council wants to overhaul special allowances paid to three-quarters of its 8,000-strong workforce. Union representatives say £4,000 of a bin man’s £17,000 annual salary is made up of these payments. Local authority bosses claim the current system of extra payments, which affects 6,000 staff, is “no longer fit for purpose”. Really so is it fit for purpose that the council leader gets a staggering £40,221 a year & travel expenses and a subsistence allowance and dependant carer’s allowance. Will there special allowances also be on the chopping board “NO” because according to the leader of the council “They’d do a better jog on a full salary” with there special allowances! Talk about calling the kettle black regular councilors receive £11,463 basic allowance. Committee chairs receive an extra £10,967, and deputy leader £17,254 and the leader of the council £28,758. and they want to take away special allowances from there lower paid staff. Thank god the Green Party is not running this country’s finances just think of the mess we’d be in if they where. wippasnapper
  • Score: 0

11:06am Wed 23 Jan 13

Vigilia says...

A binman's annual salary is what this administration's traveller policy squanders in seventeen days and they wish to cut his pay further.
Shameful.
A binman's annual salary is what this administration's traveller policy squanders in seventeen days and they wish to cut his pay further. Shameful. Vigilia
  • Score: 0

2:59pm Wed 23 Jan 13

mimseycal says...

You want to cut costs? Stop hiring sheep at 28 pence a day plus all the other associated expenses.

Residents need bin wo/men and carers ... sheep grazing our downland at public expense is a luxury we could do without.
You want to cut costs? Stop hiring sheep at 28 pence a day plus all the other associated expenses. Residents need bin wo/men and carers ... sheep grazing our downland at public expense is a luxury we could do without. mimseycal
  • Score: 0

4:45pm Wed 23 Jan 13

Andy R says...

HJarrs wrote:
Union rightly rattles sabres at the starting point for the negotiation of terms and conditions. Nothing wrong with that and I hope they come to an amicable agreement without recourse to industrial action. However, the union is a Labour Party funder and I would hope that politics does not come into this as the greens are the closest to many unions in terms of policies and if they get turfed out, Labour will do them no favours and under the Tories they will all end up privatised if they have a job at all!
What both BHCC unions have demonstrated over the years is that it is best not to assume that any political party will "look after" them. The price of decent terms and conditions is eternal vigilance (as someone once nearly said).
[quote][p][bold]HJarrs[/bold] wrote: Union rightly rattles sabres at the starting point for the negotiation of terms and conditions. Nothing wrong with that and I hope they come to an amicable agreement without recourse to industrial action. However, the union is a Labour Party funder and I would hope that politics does not come into this as the greens are the closest to many unions in terms of policies and if they get turfed out, Labour will do them no favours and under the Tories they will all end up privatised if they have a job at all![/p][/quote]What both BHCC unions have demonstrated over the years is that it is best not to assume that any political party will "look after" them. The price of decent terms and conditions is eternal vigilance (as someone once nearly said). Andy R
  • Score: 0

10:37am Thu 24 Jan 13

fredflintstone1 says...

mimseycal wrote:
You want to cut costs? Stop hiring sheep at 28 pence a day plus all the other associated expenses.

Residents need bin wo/men and carers ... sheep grazing our downland at public expense is a luxury we could do without.
And guess what? There's a common thread. The bin men/women's boss Gillian Marston is the same person who is so in favour of the sheep grazing ...
[quote][p][bold]mimseycal[/bold] wrote: You want to cut costs? Stop hiring sheep at 28 pence a day plus all the other associated expenses. Residents need bin wo/men and carers ... sheep grazing our downland at public expense is a luxury we could do without.[/p][/quote]And guess what? There's a common thread. The bin men/women's boss Gillian Marston is the same person who is so in favour of the sheep grazing ... fredflintstone1
  • Score: 0

10:59am Thu 24 Jan 13

mimseycal says...

HA! The Head of City Infrastructure at the Council. That figures I suppose .... ye gawds!
HA! The Head of City Infrastructure at the Council. That figures I suppose .... ye gawds! mimseycal
  • Score: 0

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