On Monday 16th September at September’s full council meeting a notice of motion was brought forward by Walsall Labour Group Leader Councillor Aftab Nawaz, and supported by Walsall Labour Group Deputy Leader Councillor Khizar Hussain, Councillor Lee Jeavons, Councillor Rose Burley, Councillor Angela Underhill, Councillor Naheed Gultasib and Councillor Richard Worrall for a fully funded, proper pay rise for Council and school workers in Walsall.
The notice of motion proposed that council and school workers in Walsall should receive a £10 per hour living wage, and that the costs of this should be met by Central Government and not from existing council funds.
The motion also suggested that council and school workers should be encouraged and offered the opportunity to join a trade union.
This motion was submitted because Walsall Labour argues that council and school workers have had to bare the brunt of Conservative imposed austerity since 2010 and that they deserved a pay rise as reward for the dedication and hard work they did across Walsall.
The Walsall Conservatives branded the Labour motion as a “political stunt” and criticised the encouragement for workers to join a trade union.
Walsall Labour Group Leader Councillor Aftab Nawaz said:
“It has been a hard few years for our officers and many of them are struggling at the bottom end of the scale and to make ends meet so it is only right that we respect that with a pay rise.
“I don’t believe there is anyone in this chamber that would say our staff don’t do valuable work and it is important to recognise that.”
Labour Councillor Lee Jeavons said:
“We are not asking the council to find the money.
“We are asking this council to put pressure on the government to find the money in the same way they did for other public sector workers when they were put under political pressure. Aren’t our workers valuable?”
Walsall Conservative Councillor Bal Chatta, the portfolio holder for personnel and business support, said:
“As a council we face significant financial challenges and that’s because the last Labour Government left the economy in a state.
That comment was then followed up by Walsall Conservative Leader and Council Leader Mike Bird, he said:
“This is a deluded notice of motion and not because we don’t value the work our staff do. But not only is it not costed, it is not possible.
“A political stunt like this when you are instructing our non-political officers to encourage people to join the trade union just to line your pockets, I’m sorry but it isn’t going to happen.”
Shortly after the meeting Walsall Labour Group Leader Councillor Aftab Nawaz said:
“It is disappointing to see the Conservatives making excuses about not being able to fund it when we said we wanted the Government to do so.
“It is clear they see a threat in people joining the trade unions because they support the rights of workers.”
In summary, the notice of motion was voted down in full by all Walsall Conservative councillors therefore denying hard working council and school workers the pay rise they deserve.