Birmingham City Council, run by a Con/Lib Dem joint administration, is a huge council. The Council has a budget of over £3.56 billion If you include schools.)
It employs 50,000 staff and has written to 26,000 outlining plans to change their terms and conditions. Basic pay will not be cut but perks such as free car parking and generous mileage allowances are being curbed. Very eco friendly.
Cue mindless knee-jerk opposition from the trade unions. The really significant point though is that changing the employment terms to make them more flexible. This is to reduce the need for redundancies. Suppose you have person A in a necessary job retires and person B who wishes to continue in employment but is in a post that is being scrapped. Rather than recruit a new person for the necessary job and make the person redundant for the post being scrapped you redeploy person B to take over from person A.
As Cllr Alan Rudge, a Conservative councillor and the Cabinet Member for Equalities and Human Resources, tells the BBC:
"Doing that would actually reduce redundancies, not increase them."
I'm sure Birmingham Council wishes to keep redundancies to a minimum – they are expensive as well as unpleasant. But do the unions want to cooperate? Or are they just up for ruck?
Cue also, of course, opposition from the opposition Labour Group. Their leader Cllr Sir Albert Bore calls the plans "appalling." They are a contribution to savings of £330 million by 2014. An alternative would be to double the Council Tax, which currently raises £333 million. Is that what Sir Albert would prefer?
MEMO TO CLLR RUDGE
Your council employs staff who work full time for Unite, Unison and GMB. When the Taxpayers Alliance tried to find out how many they were told the total was "not recorded." I suspect it is in double figures. Something to look at for redeployment.