UNION chiefs have attacked the leader of Bournemouth council over his claim that improving their members’ pay would mean job losses.

Many council services are set to be disrupted today by a pay strike, while trade unionists will protest outside the Local Government Association conference in Bournemouth.

Cllr Beesley had criticised the strike and said there would have to be more job losses if a higher pay offer was approved nationally.

But Joanne Kaye, regional secretary for UNISON South West, said a pay rise would mean thousands of staff would be able to spend more in the local economy.

“We have thousands of members across the town, all of whom pay the council tax that funds Cllr Beesley’s £36,000 claim in allowances and giving them a pay rise would not only benefit the local economy but would also lift many out of reliance on in-work benefits,” she said.

“He also seems unaware of the fact that over half of the cost of our claim would be met by this lifting of council workers out of benefits – is he perfectly happy for local tax payers to have to subsidise poverty pay in local government so that he doesn’t have to pay people a decent wage.” But Cllr Beesley, who said only a small proportion of the workforce was backing the strike, said the council’s grant from government would have fallen by 47 per cent by next year.

“Any increase in pay above inflation would have to be resourced from somewhere,” he said.

“The only alternative would be to have more compulsory redundancies and we in Bournemouth have been successful in preventing large numbers of compulsory redundancies.”

UNISON has challenged Cllr Beesley “to explain to our members why he is worth £36,000 per year and yet our members are not worth a £1.20 per hour pay rise”.

Cllr Beesley said cabinet members took a five per cent pay cut in 2010-11 and all members’ allowances had been frozen since. He said the union’s leadership did not know the hours he put into council work and “may be surprised” to find out.