Our old friend Steve Comer appears to have got himself a new gig after failing to become the leader of the council. The leader of Bristol’s Lib Dems, who also moonlights on the National Executive of the alleged left wing, anti-privatisation PCS (Public and Commercial Services) union, has now pitched up as the Chair of the city council’s Human Resources Committee which, probably, comes with an increase in his councillor allowances.
So what’s this champion of workers rights up to now then? Er, he’s cutting the income of some of the city council’s lowest paid workers of course.
At a meeting of his committee on Thursday night, Comer cheerfully removed pensionable allowances for heating, lighting and rent from residential caretakers and removed shift allowances from security workers, mobile caretakers and waste disposal crane drivers.
He also helpfully explained to the out-of-pocket workers that their pay cut was not a cut at all as far as he was concerned because “the aim isn’t to save money”. It was simply a matter of having to harmonise things in order to avoid expensive, equal-pay law suits he claimed.
Comer’s cut-free cuts are likely to have a devastating affect on the finances of the workers involved however. In some cases it will take the workers back to their pay levels of the early 1990s. One Residential Caretaker told Comer:
“Anne one of my colleagues, has kept her pay details going back to 1992 her take home pay was £152 per week – if this goes through I will be left with £152 per week in 2007 (after council tax, rent, water, lighting payments). This is not taking into consideration inflation and the fact that my £152 per week is worth less now than it did in 1992.”
Crane drivers at Days Road dump, meanwhile, had this to say about Comer’s cutless cuts:
“We are disgusted and outraged by HR’s intention to remove our shift working allowance, which would result in crane drivers (who all have wives and children) losing approximately £2,500 p.a. from their wages.”
Radical firebrand and man of the people Comer responded, “Those that find themselves losing out are not entitled to shift payments because they don’t work the hours that qualify.”
Neatly sidestepping the fact that he’s just changed the qualification rules to suit himself. What a shining example of modern trade unionism he is.
In Saturday’s Evening Cancer, a Bristolian had this to say to the likes of Comer and his fellow committee member, T&G union hypocrite and Labour Party Executive member John Bees:
“It’s small wonder that the city council is perceived as second rate by Bristolians, when it sacrifices its best ambassadors – not council officers on inflated salaries with work/life balance benefits, and not executive members on £40,000-plus, doing a job that was at one time unpaid (no review for them, I suspect) – but the low-paid.”
Hear! Hear! Comer and Bees might do well to think about this and perhaps, maybe, start to turn their Human Resources guns on some of these hopeless superannuated council officers on inflated salaries sharing out the work/life balance benefits.
They could start with Heather Tomlinson. Heather earns in excess of £120k a year running the city’s education department. And what happened to her recently when it was announced that the Redland Green School building project, which she is directly accountable for, was £5m – or 15% – over budget?
Fuck all that’s what. We have to pay people like Tomlinson a small fortune in wages – we’re told by Comer, Bees and the rest of the idiot brigade – in order to get the best. Then when these people demonstrably prove they’re not the best – in fact they prove they’re not even competent – nothing happens.
There should be no ifs and no buts about this. Tomlinson’s record is just not good enough. Her results in raising attainment in Bristol schools have been marginal at best; her strategy to force as many Bristol schools as possible out of LEA control and into academy status is obvious and simplistic and now she’s gone and pissed FIVE MILLION POUNDS of our money down the toilet because she can’t do her job properly.
She should bloody go! And if she hasn’t got the decency to hold her hands up and take responsibility – as her excessive salary demands – then Comer and Bees need to stop playing the macho tough-guys by pissing on the poor and get some real fire in their bellies and give her boot.
If it was down to The Blogger he’d dress the useless, over-privileged, yacht-owning money-waster in sackcloth, stick a “I’ve wasted your money” sign ’round her neck and personally march her through the streets of Bristol to the city limits encouraging people to throw rotten fruit and buckets of raw sewage at her as she goes…
But there’s no chance of that. Instead the city council are paying consultants – despite having an allegedly competent and highly-qualified finance and audit department at their disposal – to come in and find out what went wrong at Redland Green.
Meanwhile Comer and Bees have got far more important work to do than worrying over a wasted £5m. They’re now planning to privatise the jobs of drivers for special needs children!
Yes. Another privatisation to save a measly few grand a year at the expense of the low-paid while highly-paid officers get special protection from privatising councillors and more thousands thrown their way to pay consultants to produce a cover-up report for their multi-million pound errors.
What a complete and utter disgrace.