The leader of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat run Leeds City council, Cllr Richard Brett, has received threats and had bags of rubbish dumped in front of his house as the indefinite strike action by the city's bin men and women, and street cleaners approached its second week.
The leader of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat run Leeds City council, Cllr Richard Brett, has received threats and had bags of rubbish dumped in front of his house as the indefinite strike action by the city’s bin men and women, and street cleaners approached its second week.
The dispute centres on equal pay legislation, which obliges councils to ensure that men and women undertaking the same work receive equal wages. While both Unison and the GMB have called for women’s pay to be increased to match that of their male colleagues, the council have instead adopted an approach where across the council as a whole, somewhere in the region of 2,000 workers – including many bin men – could face salary cuts of up to £6,000. The council argue that the union-preferred approach would cost the council up to £45 million a year to implement.
Speaking for Unison, regional organiser Tony Pearson said:
“The mood on the picket line is very, very good and the strike appears to be solidly observed. Our message for the people of Leeds is that this is an absolute last resort. At the end of the day, this is an attack on working class people and their families.”
As a temporary measure, the council have drafted in private contractors to undertake as much work as possible cleaning the streets and emptying bins, a move which has angered unions.
It remains to be seen how and when the situation in Leeds ends. However, some are calling for a review of the equal pay legislation to ensure that it is not used as an opportunity to cut costs and save money. Furthermore, with Conservatives pledges to freeze council tax already leading to fears of service cuts, expect the debate over how councils are funded to hot up.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.