Labour Councillors have tried to block a pay rise for the Wirral Council’s lowest paid staff – including 131 care workers, 118 childcare workers and 92 crossing patrol attendants. The national public sector pay freeze included the option for local councils to exempt lowest paid staff – those earning less than £21,000 a year – and, instead give them a pay rise of £250.
Conservative opposition leader Cllr. Jeff Green said:
“This year’s Conservative budget included £800,000 to make sure our lowest paid staff would be helped with the cost of living. They were promised this money and tonight we forced a vote in the Town Hall for the Council to hand it over.
"I am passionate about how the Council treats its staff. As Leader, I was open and up front with staff about the challenges we faced. Partly because of that, we were able to cut Council spending by £52 million, avoid compulsory redundancies, freeze Council Tax and reduce the Council’s debts by £10 million. Every single member of staff can be proud of what we achieved together.”
Labour Council leader Cllr. Steve Foulkes and Cllr. Adrian Jones, the Cabinet Member for Corporate Resources, fought to stop the pay rise and, instead, bank the £800,000.
Cllr. Green added:
“This was a shocking betrayal by Labour of the lowest paid staff in the Council. It reminds me of the way in which Gordon Brown scrapped the 10p tax for the lowest paid.
“Other councils have honoured their responsibilities and, because we reduced the running costs of the Council, I made sure the money was available in this year’s budget to help the lowest paid. Many people, not least the lowest paid, are being hit by the rising cost of living. This £250 will help with that.”
Labour was defeated as Liberal Democrats joined with the Conservatives to force through the payment.