Havering Council leader defends staff pay review after councillor calls it a ‘pig’s ear’

Lisa Huff, John Winch and Sue King, all teaching assistants at Hilldene Primary School joined hundre

Lisa Huff, John Winch and Sue King, all teaching assistants at Hilldene Primary School joined hundreds of protesters outside Havering Town Hall, in November, to oppose wage cuts being carried out under the council's terms and conditions review. Picture: Ann-Marie Abbasah - Credit: Archant

Havering Council has been accused of making a “pig’s ear” out of a controversial salary review.

In October, the authority set out to achieve a saving of more than £500,000 by reviewing employee terms and conditions.

But according to Cllr David Durant (Independent Residents Group, Rainham and Wennington), the cost of the review exceeded the amount it aimed at saving.

He said: “The ‘pig’s ear’ review of terms and conditions of Havering employees was recently concluded and agreed 9:1 by the governance committee on July, 20.

“The review itself cost over £600,000 to conduct and was intended to deliver a £500,000 cut in the wage bill.

“The final reduction was shown as £872,000, but due to 18 per cent getting a pay rise and 30pc a pay cut, the total reduction for the 30pc was over £1million.”

A council spokesman responded that “23pc of staff will lose less than £100 a year”, and added that “the review cost £600,000 over three years assessing the roles of more than 5,000 staff”.

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Council leader, Cllr Roger Ramsey said: “Far from being a ‘pig’s ear’, the review of terms and conditions will, by next year, reduce the council’s pay bill by half a million pounds each year.”

According to Cllr Durant lower paid staff suffered disproportionately higher pay cuts due to changes in allowances.

He added: “Hence the sense of anger, demoralisation and sense of unfairness expressed by many employees about the review.”

In November, hundreds of council workers and union members fearing lower-paid workers would be hit worst, protested outside Havering Town Hall with placards denouncing the review.

At the protest, Hilldene Primary School teaching assistant John Winch said: “It’s taken me 16 years to get where I am and now they’re knocking me back down.”

The spokeswoman explained that “teaching assistants will get an allowance so won’t be worse off.”

Cllr Ramsey added: “This council, like many across the country, is facing an ever increasing demand for services, coupled with an ever decreasing budget.

“We have to look at all the options open to us to save money and protect the frontline services.”