Have they Lost the Plot or Just Their Senses?
In the week when the Prime Minister and his Ministers at the Conservative Conference tried to convince everyone that we’re all in this together and will have to ‘share the pain’ of their failing economic policies the Northampton Conservatives have revealed the true face of modern Conservatism.
Selfish, nasty, self-serving and out of touch.
The latest crazy and nonsensical proposals from the Northampton Conservatives to save money alongside cutting front line services begs the question have they now in their arrogant, we can do what we like attitude taken complete leave of their senses.
By what we have been able to find out to date the proposals come as a two package option,
Option 1. That all 3,000 County Council staff accepts a 3.6% pay cut to balance the books.
Option 2. That County Council staff accept an end to flexi-time working; accept enforced, (at the management’s decision) taking unpaid leave and accepting they will not receive sick pay for the first three days of sickness absence.
Of course none of this apparently will apply to the Conservative Councillors who apparently are so stressed out over having to take difficult decisions affecting the working lives and families of the County Council staff that they voted to reward themselves a £2,000 a year ‘stress’ pay rise?
If you were writing a script on how to be at one and the same time incompetent and insensitive then the Northampton Conservatives would be well on their way to producing an Oscar-winning screen play, as it happens it is more an amateur farce.
There’ll be some from the usual “let’s kick those in public services” brigade who will talk about ‘gold plated pensions’, about how ‘we’re all in this together’, but think of this,
If it was proposed that nurses, police, fire and rescue, prison staff, teachers and the armed services should take a 3.6% pay cut how loud would the outcry be?
The Council front line staff who provide services to the elderly, vulnerable, fosters children and children under threat, families who through no fault of their own are in trouble as well other front line services are essential to large numbers of the Community.
They are the same staff who have had their pay frozen for the past 3 years, (no £2,000 increase for them) which with the cost of living rising has along with every other hard-working family in Northampton seen their real incomes and more importantly their standard of living fall by over 12%.
A cut of 3.6% in wages is not only that but with inflation at 2.5% is in fact a cut in family income of 6% over the next year.
Quite clearly this is going to be the preferred option of the Northampton Conservatives because it guarantees the savings, but at what cost to the essential front line services being delivered to the people of Northampton?
Ask yourself this question, “How motivated would you be to give 100% for an organisation who want to effectively cut your wages by almost 4% and your families’ standard of living next year by over 6%”?
It is a cruel proposal that will affect not only the County Council staff but the millions of individual services they provide to people across Northamptonshire.
It is a case of the Conservatives having really lost the plot in proposing this as a real option.
Which of course brings me to the even more, not so much of a callous and cruel option but one that makes no sense what so ever.
OK not paying sick pay for the first 3 days someone is off sick will save money but enough to deliver £4 million worth of savings?
Even at £100 a day (and the majority don’t get paid anywhere near that) the 3,000 County Council staff would have to take over 40,000 days off work between them or the equivalent of 110 years.
It is crazy because as many people know from experience sometimes to take 2/3 days off to recover especially during the flu season makes more damn sense than going into work and either making it worse leading to longer off work or worse still going in and spreading it to fellow workers.
The issue of stopping flexi-time working is also a complete nonsense and especially in the current economic situation where families’ with young children rely on two incomes to put a roof over their heads and food on the table.
Flexible working hours is essential for the families to be able to manage child care and avoid having to rely on the welfare state.
Stopping flexible hours working will also have a very serious impact on the delivery of services,
What happens for example if someone is visiting a vulnerable person and find themselves having to work over their allocated normal working hours to make sure the issue are fully resolved?
Under the current system they are able to claim the additional hours as flexi-time, would they without it have to say “Sorry my shift has finished” or claim “overtime” or have to phone a senior colleagues to ask for permission to stay on the job.
It is ridiculous and I believe will lead to some staff being reluctant to take on another job in mid-afternoon because it would be too near the shift end.
The reality of course is that if the Northampton Conservative really want to save money they could start with scrapping the Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership and sign up with SEMLEP which would save them £2million a year, close the Brussels office saving another £200,000 a year and cut the County Council Conservative Cabinet saving £22,000 on each post saved and cut Senior Management costs, all of which will have no impact whatsoever on the delivery of front line services.
I’m sure that even those who are most critical of the County Council will recognise that the proposals and the consequences if they go ahead for the taxpayer haven’t been thought through, demonstrating once again the incompetence of those in charge of the Council.
On a positive note we now have had revealed what the Northampton Conservatives attitude to the Council staff really is and has also revealed to the public that there is a very clear “one rule for us, a different rule for everyone else” attitude amongst the Northampton Conservatives.
It will be a theme that will be revisited in the coming months an especially early next year in the run up to the Northamptonshire County Council election in May 2013.