It was revealed yesterday that the unions have emphatically rejected changes to their terms and conditions at Hull City Council. This has been a long running saga and something I have written about on many occasions. When Labour took control of the Guildhall in May 2011 from the Liberal Democrats, they said they would look at overtime rates and mileage allowances.
I can't say I am surprised that proposals to change staff terms and conditions have been rejected. Negotiations (or the threat of them) have been going on for more than two years. Paying the HMRC recommended mileage rate of 45p per mile instead of the 65p rate the council currently pay is fair, but the rhetoric coming from union leaders has more than implied they are up for a fight. Andrew Reed, vice-president of the Hull Trades Union Council, had this to say:
We fully support the staff at the council who are fighting against these cuts to their terms and conditions. It's a disgrace that Labour councillors who are former union officials are even thinking of attacking their own workers like this.
With that level of realism about the financial crisis we find ourselves in, you can't help but have some sympathy for the council leader, Steve Brady. I would have more sympathy for him though if he had not forced out a chief executive, without giving a valid reason, which cost taxpayers almost a quarter of million pounds in the process.
I have referred to the elections in May 2011 when Labour took control of Hull City Council. Just after that election, I was sent the picture below.
Is it hardly surprising the council seems incapable of changing staff terms and conditions and getting the unions to agree to a fair mileage rate? If Cllr Brady had stood up to the unions for the start and made it clear these reforms were essential, he may not have found himself in this position. He has not been strong, despite his tub-thumping rhetoric, and this has come back to haunt him.