Longstanding zero-rate increase policy, not UK-wide pay deal, to blame for financial crisis at Causeway Coast & Glens Borough council

Councillors’ attempts to blame UK-wide pay deal for council’s financial woes are misleading and dishonest

Latest pay increase comes after a decade of wage suppression in which hard-pressed Local Government workers’ pay fell by 22 percent in real terms

Gareth Scott, Unite Regional Officer was scathing of comments made by political representatives which sought to blame a UK-wide pay deal for the financial crisis at Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council.

“I have been contacted by members and workplace reps across all CCGB council depots and there is widespread outrage over commentary by political representatives attempting to pin the blame for the council’s financial difficulties on the backs of hard-pressed workers.

“The reality is that far from the financial crisis being caused by a ‘pay hike’, it’s roots lie in the longstanding zero-rates increase policy of the council. Notwithstanding the increase that was made this year, Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council retains the lowest domestic rate in Northern Ireland. No other council in Northern Ireland is facing a crisis like this – ratepayers will not be fooled into thinking that it is caused by a UK-wide pay deal. This is what happens when a council continues to strike a zero rates policy regardless of expenditure. Ratepayers will know and understand that there is no such thing as a free meal – it’s a shame the councillors don’t seem to grasp that truth.

“My union’s members – who day and daily go out to work to collect bins or cleanse streets – have had to endure 10 years of wage suppression. They have seen their pay fall 22 percent in real terms in the period; their terms & conditions have been pared away, and the combination of job-losses and mounting work-related pressure has resulted in problems with staff retention and recruitment. By comparison to the private sector, workers in local authorities – like those in schools – are poorly paid.

“To seek to blame poorly-paid and hard-pressed workers for a crisis caused by the council’s own policies is both misleading and dishonest. Instead of insulting workers – councillors would do well to look at their own policies as they are the root cause of the financial crisis their council is facing” Mr Scott concluded.

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