600 members of GMB and Unison have been on strike since the 7th September over Leeds Council’s proposals to level down pay for workers in the refuse and street cleaning department to achieve equal pay. These workers face pay cuts of up to £6,000 down from an average of £18,000. The City Council is run by a Lib Dem/Tory administration.
Tim Roache, GMB Regional Secretary today reacted to the 92% vote by union members of the cleaning staff in Leeds City Council to reject the council’s ‘final offer’ and to continue the strike now in its seventh week.
He said, “GMB members rejected the offer for a number of reasons. First, a significant number of the strikers are being asked to work longer and harder and in return they are expected to take pay cuts of over £1,000. They cannot afford pay cuts of this magnitude. Second, the offer from the council to alleviate the pay cuts of up to £6,000 involves new productivity elements with which there are problems. The main problem is that GMB members feel that the productivity targets are unachievable in that the council expects bin lift rates of 220 properties per hour. Such performance levels are unachievable. The members rightly feel that the scheme will never deliver the money and that they will still be facing the substantial and unaffordable pay cuts.
GMB members want to see Leeds City Council adopt the same approach adopted elsewhere in Yorkshire in introducing equal pay in the Council that involves levelling up women’s pay and not levelling down men’s pay.
The City Council has an annual wage bill of £830 million. There are 663 people employed by the Council who earn over £50,000 a year. Of these, 67 earn over £80,000 and 19 over £100,000. Leeds is the only authority in Yorkshire that has failed to resolve the equal pay issue with its street cleaning and refuse workers. It is increasingly looking like that there is an absence of political will to sort this issue out without attacking the wage levels of the lowest paid employees in the Council.”
Donations to the two union strike funds:
The address to send the cheques may payable to ‘GMB strike fund’ to GMB strike fund, GMB Yorkshire & North Derbyshire Region, Grove Hall, 60 College Grove Road, Wakefield, WF1 3RN.
Donations to the hardship fund can be marked for the attention of Loraine Senior and sent to UNISON, Yorkshire and Humberside Region, Commerce House, Wade Lane, Leeds LS2 8NJ. Cheques should be made payable to UNISON Yorkshire and Humberside Region.