BOURNEMOUTH’S council leader has criticised workers planning to strike tomorrow and warned increased pay would mean job losses.
Cllr John Beesley also slammed plans by striking employees to stage a Victorian workhouse themed rally and lobby outside the BIC, where the Local Government Association is being held.
He said this “did not send out a good message for Bournemouth, for jobs and the local economy.”
But union representatives have defended their actions, claiming many members have been squeezed to such an extent they are struggling to make ends meet.
David Higgins, the Unison representative at Bournemouth council, said he had heard of some members having to use foodbanks to supplement their wages.
“You shouldn’t have people working in local government having to supplement their wages by going to foodbanks,” he said. “That’s not right.
“If you compare us to other employers, the lowest paid in local government get £6.75 an hour, we are by far the lowest of all the public services. If you’re looking at a normal large employer like Tesco, they pay £6.91 a year. We really have been squeezed and squeezed.”
Local government workers have had a three-year pay freeze, followed by a one per cent rise last year and the offer of a one per cent rise this year. Mr Higgins said this would mean they were effectively 20 per cent worse off than they were in 2010.
But Cllr Beesley said: “If we are to carry on delivering effective frontline services then something has to give. It either has to be that pay increases are kept within budget or inevitably, if that does not happen, we will be able to afford to employ less staff and we don’t want that to happen.”
He questioned claims of council workers relying on foodbanks and said: “That’s not a picture I recognise as being widespread. There are plenty of people sadly who are struggling both in the public and private sector. The council does everything it can to help them and their families.”
The strike is supported by Bournemouth Labour leader Cllr Ben Grower, who said: “I think people who work for local government are in desperate need of an increase.
“Their salaries and conditions have been reduced and they are having great difficulty in making ends meet and supporting their families. Their demands are quite reasonable.”
Beesley: Westminster could learn a lot from us
BOURNEMOUTH council leader Cllr John Beesley welcomed 2,000 councillors to the resort with a claim that Westminster could learn a lot from local councils.
The Local Government Association, which is in the town for the first time since 2010, is Labour-dominated for the first time in a decade following the May elections.
Conservative Cllr Beesley said he hoped government would “begin to listen to the warnings from the LGA about the sustainability of diminishing resources”.
He said councils were living through perhaps the greatest changes any of the conference’s delegates had experienced.
“As ever, local government has risen to the challenge and through the most rigorous efficiency and transformation programmes up and down the country, we have set the example for public services throughout the country,” he said.
“We all know that Westminster could learn a lot about the transformation of government departments and budgets, and the art of delivering true value for money to taxpayers, from the example that local government has set over these past four years.”
He also urged delegates at the BIC to try the town’s leisure attractions and return in their own time.
“I hope you agree that four years is too long a gap before coming back here. I am therefore delighted that we shall not have to wait so long again, and that after going to Harrogate next year we shall be back here in Bournemouth in 2016,” he said.
MANY schools will be closed, bins could go un-emptied and council services disrupted as members of the Unite, Unison, GMB and NUT unions take industrial action tomorrow.
Union representatives claim members are struggling to make ends meet following a three-year pay freeze and they say the Government offer of a one per cent pay rise is unacceptable.
The decision of teachers to strike will see some schools closed for the third time in one academic year. NUT representatives say the dispute is over pay, pensions, workload and government reforms.
Elsewhere, the most noticeable impact is likely to be on bin collections. Councils are advising residents to put their refuse and recycling bins out as normal but warning they could get collected at a later date, possibly even a week later.
All councils are pledging to maintain vital frontline services and those affecting vulnerable people and have urged residents to check social media or their websites for up to date information.
Bournemouth council’s chief executive Tony Williams said: “It is difficult to gauge how many staff will strike as they are not obliged to inform us whether they intend to strike or cross picket lines. However, I would like to assure residents we will be doing everything possible to maintain council services.”
Some disruption is expected to bin collections, but residents should put out bins as normal. If bins are not emptied, residents should continue putting them out daily and the council aims to catch up with in a week.
Carl Wilcox, head of human resources, Borough of Poole, said: “Borough of Poole always aims to maintain its services during industrial action. Our priority is to minimise the likelihood of any impact on residents but unfortunately we cannot rule out the possibility of disruption to some local services on the day. “Union members taking part in strike action are not required by law to inform us of their intention to strike. We are, however, aware that some schools will be partly or fully closed.
“Collection of recycling and general waste will also be suspended for the day and there maybe some disruption to garden waste collections. The council is continuing negotiations with local union representatives in an effort to ensure essential services for the most vulnerable are maintained during the industrial action.”
Milhams tip will be open as normal. Bournemouth Town Hall and its services will be open to the public as normal.
Some disruption is expected to emergency road repairs. Minimal impact is expected on tenant housing repairs, day centres, community centres and parks maintenance.
Bournemouth Airport said the Border Force confirmed the PCS Union will strike from Thursday July 10 from 7am to Friday July 11 at 7am.
A spokesperson said: "Minimal operational impact is anticipated and volunteers will be in place during this time to cover all immigration functions, including E Gates and Transfers."
Street cleaning, beach cleaning and patrols, civic enforcement and out-of-hours support are expected to continue as normal Libraries will be closed at Boscombe, Castlepoint, Char-minster, Springbourne, Tuckton and Westbourne. Other branches will be open as normal: Bournemouth central, Ensbury Park, Kinson Hub, Southbourne, West Howe and Winton.
Car parks will be open as normal.
2,000 staff from Dorset County Council may take part in strike
RESIDENTS in the Dorset County Council administrative area should be braced for some disruption to council services on Thursday.
County Hall has around 2,000 staff members who may take industrial action - but employees don’t have to let managers know until the actual strike day.
This means the full impact on services will not be known until tomorrow morning.
However, county chiefs have pledged to do all they can to minimise disruption.
County council chief executive Debbie Ward said: “Although it is impossible to predict the impact that Thursday’s strike will have on our services, we are doing everything we can to minimise disruption for Dorset residents.
“Our priority will be to continue to support the most vulnerable and protect our most critical services.”
Residents who would normally have their rubbish and/or recycling collected on Thursday are being told to place their containers out as usual.
If Dorset Waste Partnership cannot complete all collections, they will be aiming to carry out catch-up collections on Saturday, July 12.
Residents should leave their containers out until then end of Saturday.
There are no anticipated closures of county-run children’s centres and adult social care day centres. Both Weymouth and Dorchester park and ride services will run as normal and most, if not all, libraries should also open as normal.
Mrs Ward said: “If residents are unsure if a particular service is likely to be affected, they can visit our website, follow us on social media or call 01305 221 000.”
Visit dorsetforyou.com/dorset-strikes-10-july for information.