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Low Pay, No Way!
WORKERS ARE fed up to the back teeth with a class system, where some top executives have given themselves 600% or more pay rises and huge bonuses, while workers who ask for only 6% get offered peanuts.
Rob Windsor, Socialist Party councillor Coventry
These same fat cats are the ones who are ending occupational pension schemes for workers while propelling their own final pension schemes into the million-plus a year bracket.
Little wonder that the Association of British Insurers and Pirc, the corporate governance watchdog, say that the excessive pay for bosses of Britain's top public companies is "discrediting capitalism".
But the fat cats are involved with local councils too. Coventry council's chief executive recently defended pay rises for top officers of between £5,000 and £14,000 a year because in her view they were "worth it".
Here's how Coventry council works these days. The top officers, usually closely allied to Blairite free-market think tanks, propose various cuts in services, jobs and conditions as well as privatisation. The council leader on £39,000 a year and cabinet members on between £15,000 and £18,000 a year, allied to Blair's free-market-loving Labour Party nod in support.
They employ consultants, some on £500 a day to develop their arguments. Finally they sell the whole package to New Labour and Tory back bench councillors, usually afraid to say "boo" for fear of losing their chance to be like their masters.
The people who have to implement all of this and who are expected to deliver 'A' class services with 'Z' class funding are the council workforce. They're often on wages that don't even top £12,000 a year. These are the people who do their best to deliver public services through funding crises, constantly under threat of being handed over to the private sector through Labour's "Best Value" scheme.
But Coventry council workers have been fighting back. 80% supported the last council strike, because they know that they are the ones really worth a decent living pay rise.
New Labour delivers policies that Margaret Thatcher would have been proud of, with a smile rather than a snarl. Yet, they still take the unions' money. That's why we need a new mass workers' party that will really represent the needs of working people.
And that's why, if council workers decided to reject the current pay offer and take further action, myself and socialist councillors Dave Nellist and Karen McKay will be on the picket lines and will donate a day's pay and expenses to the hardship fund and the "Free the Funds" campaign - because the fight for a new workers' party is worth it!.
In The Socialist 9 August 2002: