Thursday 18 July 2013

We need to talk about Kevin - Updated

Update 18/7/13

Thank you to Anon (comments below) for this link to a letter from Mark Evans to Kevin Madge.


As readers may have noticed, Ed Milliband and the unions are not exactly a mutual appreciation society at the moment, and it's not just about vote rigging in constituencies, but a much wider rift about the direction Labour is taking as it edges ever closer to the policies of David Cameron and George Osborne. Our MP, Jonathan Edwards, has coined a term for that - the Red Tories.

Of course, all of that is taking place in what Carmarthenshire's Labour leader, Kevin Madge, likes to call the "Westminster Bubble", but a letter in this week's Carmarthen Journal from Mark Evans, Branch Secretary of Unison in Carmarthenshire, makes it clear that the union and its members are far from happy with Kev and his friends in County Hall.

The letter points out that the council is about to embark on a new round of deep cuts to services, and that these cuts are being passively passed on to councils by the Labour government in Cardiff. Nobody in Labour seems to be putting up a fight, and yet they will hit ordinary families and the low-paid hardest.

Mark Evans has also spotted what Cneifiwr noticed recently (A Message from the Leader, 4 July) when the council chief executive once again took over a big chunk of the paper to warn us of dark days ahead. In a normal democracy you would have expected this to come from someone who had put himself up for election, rather than from an appointed officer who is supposed to be politically neutral. Kev ("my grandparents were miners") was nowhere to be seen.

There is a lot of pain to come, and Mark Evans points out that the chief executive (on at least 13 times the pay of many council workers), and Kevin Madge (leader's salary of £47,500) will not be sharing any of it.

Elsewhere in the paper there is a report on a meeting of Ammanford Town Council, which is being asked to take over a park and children's playground from the county council. The council has allowed the playground to fall into neglect. Some councillors noted that the county council is trying to pass off more and more of its responsibilities on to local councils, but Cllr Colin Evans (Kev's right-hand man) was there to warn of impending doom, as the county council braced itself for cuts of £18 million.

Notice how this figure is being quoted at every opportunity. In his State of the Union address the other week, the chief executive said his best guess was cuts of £12m next year.


Anonymous said...

Despite Mark's best efforts CCC will take little notice without the full support of Unison members and CCC employees. I urge those members to stand behind him and for those who are not members of Unison to seriously think about joining. In times of austerity, problems and difficulties, it can be a very lonely, traumatic and costly experience defending your corner and fighting for justice.

Here is a link to a letter that Mark sent to Cllr Madge previously

Anonymous said...

So Save JOBS is the message !!

Anonymous said...

While I am sympathetic to Unison's campaign, the council will have a shortfall of £18 million. At most cutting executive salaries would raise maybe £100,000 after legal fees etc. Then again the unions would complain about single status and senior employees not being remunerated in accordance with their responsibilities.

It's all very well telling the council to fight the good fight, but the council is responsible for education and social services. If the council is more interested in playing politics that providing services then we will all suffer, including some of us with our lives.

Anonymous said...

@ anon 18:02 - please read the link?

@ anon 18:04 - A "shortfall of £18 million" is all the more reason why CCC and the Leader should work in partnership, communicate and discuss options with Unison.

Cneifiwr said...

I think we also need to be careful about quoting this figure of £18m. The chief exec. told the Journal that £12m was his best guess. Looks like a bit of a PR exercise to me - keep saying £18m so that Kevin Madge can claim that thanks to his standing in Cardiff Bay, he has brought it down to "just" £12m.

The chief exec appears to be playing the same game - in the last council meeting he somehow managed to arrive at a figure of £46m in savings over an unspecified period.

Anonymous said...

@ anon 18:04 - It is the majority of Cllrs who are playing politics by sacrificing the best interests of the county in favour of the officers who it would appear, run the show!

Anonymous said...

@ anon 19:11 - CCC work perfectly well with Unite and GMB. Maybe it's Unison that need to do more to work with CCC?

Anonymous said...

There has recently been a comprehensive spending review by the UK Government. Figures will be changing all the time as more information is made available.

Anonymous said...

Really anon 20:36! Well the link at the bottom of the page together with this fighting talk from Unite suggests the contrary:-

"The Unite union accused the council of launching a “vicious attack” on the union’s organisation within the authority ... Speaking at the Scottish TUC conference in Ayr, Andy Richards, Wales secretary of Unite, said: “This vicious attack on our union by Carmarthenshire County Council is a deliberate attempt to demolish our ability to represent our members. With the cuts to public services in the pipeline this is a deliberate attempt to reduce our ability to fight back at a time when our members need us the most ... Mr Lucas said union reps at the council, which employs around 9,500 workers across all departments, dealt with bullying and harassment cases on behalf of individual members and represented them in grievance hearings under the authority’s Dignity at Work policy." Anon 18:02, the statement made by Mr Lucas is my reason. Too many employees are suffering in silence!

Anonymous said...

Councils throughout England and Wales are having to make devastating cuts. Many of them have merged services or outsourced them. This must mean that there is a pool of ex-Chief Officers looking for new jobs. This should depress Council executive salaries, and what better time could there be to show that cuts affect everyone by recruiting new Chief Officers on smaller salaries (gasps of shock and horror from the corridors of power).

Symbolic gestures like replacing Council Mercs with Mondeos save little money in the overall scheme of things, but they shout out to everyone that cuts have to be made, and that even the top brass "suffer".

I'm afraid that what is going to happen in CCC is that the Chief Exec and his buddies will wail and moan about the cuts, but the axe will fall on the rank and file, and not the top dogs. As they often claim that they need be so well rewarded for managing such huge budgets and complex services, now that the budgets will be much smaller, and the services reduced, perhaps we will see a reduction in their salaries to compensate. Let's just see, shall we?

a2 said...

according to evening post, it was mark james who predicted a shortfall of 12m - 18m