Byelection issues 1: the pay dispute

Four days ago I put this question to the two leading candidates in the Hanover & Elm Grove byelection:

Emma Daniel‘s response was pretty swift. She is (not surprisingly) using Twitter well to engage with people on a range of issues in her election campaign. She replied with two tweets:

I offered her the chance to send me a longer response by email, but she didn’t take this up.

While commendably swift, I must say this doesn’t actually answer my question.

I’ve had to wait much longer for a response from David Gibson. Others on Twitter also noted his silence, as the dispute became more intense over the past few days.

However, last night, David published a lengthy statement on his campaign blog.

I’d urge people to read and comment on this statement. It makes several things very clear about where David stands on the issue and how his election would affect the balance of forces within the Green group on the council.

The key points, in my view, are:

“The city council must leave no stone unturned and show leadership in achieving this difficult task. For cityclean workers at the council refuse collection department my red line, if elected as a councillor, is that the council must agree a settlement and not impose one on its own workers.” (emphasis in original)

“as a Green Party activist, I believe fairness is worth fighting for. That means:

[…]

Fairness in industrial relations, including fair negotiating practices and no use of agency or contract workers to break a legitimate and legally organised trade union strike.

[…]”

and

“I believe that anyone taking home less than £21,000 is low paid and Greens should be exploring strenuously every avenue to avoid any outcome that lowers the income of low-paid workers. That the local Green Party has found ways of achieving a Living Wage for council workers demonstrates its commitment to achieve things in difficult circumstances.  We need to show the same commitment to find ways of protecting the take home pay of low paid workers. Where there is a will, there is usually a way. I supported the resolution on this passed by local Green Party members earlier this year.

If elected, I will support any settlement that is negotiated with the unions, but not the imposition of a deal that reduces the pay of low paid workers.” (emphasis in original)

The debate on this pay dispute has been plagued by secrecy, with all participants emphasising only the aspects of the issue which suit their particular interest. However (as both Emma and David rightly recognise) it will only be properly resolved by talking.

I agree with David – we urgently need leadership from the Green council, and a commitment to reach a settlement the unions can support. If Jason Kitcat is not prepared to meet that challenge, he should step aside and let someone else take it on.

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4 Comments on “Byelection issues 1: the pay dispute”

  1. Neil Harding says:

    Well done. Dani. I was getting impatient with David, but fair play he has now come out and made his position crystal clear. Why he didn’t do this earlier I don’t know, but he just needs to keep repeating this message so everyone knows. Very pleased with his response. As for Emma, kind words but means nothing. She needs to say whether she is in agreement with David and soon otherwise it is pretty clear who is the better candidate as far as I am concerned.

  2. Mark Yelland says:

    Great post Dani.

    For the record, I am a GP member, and a ‘watermelon’, but I would like to address this point from David G:

    “my red line, if elected as a councillor, is that the council must agree a settlement and not impose one on its own workers”

    Now, I UTTERLY agree with David G, BUT, many of us; GP members, leftist councillors, and watermelons have had an identical “red line”, and where the hell has it got us? So far, the square-root of “nowhere” is where. I would respectfully ask David G how he thinks his drawing of a “red line” will in anyway materially change things?

    I just hope it could!

  3. Dani says:

    Hi Mark,

    Good question! I know the feeling, having done my time in the 90s as a member of the Labour Party, where the views of the party membership had a similarly negligible impact on the behaviour of councillors.

    I assume that if David gets elected, his presence in the Green group would tip the balance to the left. That seems like something worth trying to achieve, though I gather it may not quite be enough.

    I’m not familiar with the Green Party constitution or what mechanisms you might be able to use to put pressure on the group leadership. Nor do I know what the character of the debate within the group is. I don’t believe that a majority of Green councillors are right-wingers intent on strike breaking.

    Maybe there is someone who has the respect and trust of people on both ‘sides’ who might be able to persuade Jason to step down as convenor for the sake of unity and a negotiated settlement to the dispute. What do you think?

  4. Woodcote249 says:

    I don’t think it’s fair to judge either candidate on the speed or depth of their Twitter responses. They are both busy on the doorsteps and juggling work/home lives. Barely a couple of weeks ago neither expected to be fighting an election. Also, it’s pretty clear from the narrow circle of ≠HEG13 contributors, the campaign is of little interest to Twittersphere. Let’s hope there’s wider debate happening in the real world.

    As for the leadership issue, yes, David’s election would tip the Green Group left which would certainly influence the call for a negotiated settlement. Unfortunately, I don’t believe Jason will ever voluntarily step down. My sense is the 10 or so councillors who may support him on this issue do so in the main because they sincerely believe there’s now no choice. However, as the majority of the party can’t understand how this red line was ever even considered, I don’t see how Jason can last.


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