Hartlepool Borough Council says it does not support zero-hour contracts in principle – and is encouraging its contractors to take the same stance.
The council has considered six key principles, proposed by Putting Hartlepool First, around improving terms for workers on the contracts.
Councillors for the party said they are incompatible with building a loyal, skilled and productive workforce, and make it hard for workers to plan their budgets,
A wider review of the council’s use of the contracts is also ongoing, and is due to be completed by October.
There are currently 22 Hartlepool council workers employed on zero-hour contracts but that number is expected to fall.
But it says they may sometimes be the best way of meeting the authority’s needs.
The council’s stance is to be included in its pay policy, and will state:
“The council does not generally support the use of zero-hours contracts.
“However, there may be circumstances where the use of zero-hour contracts is the most effective and efficient way of meeting the council’s needs, and the assistant chief executive (or nominees) will determine when this applies.
“Where employees are employed on a zero-hours contract they are employed on a fixed or permanent basis, are entitled to request a review of their contracted hours at any time after six months in post and are not prevented from working for other employees.”
Contractors employed by the council will be required to pay workers the National Minimum Wage and also encouraged to pay the council’s Living Wage.
With regard to the use of zero-hours contracts, the council policy states contractors will avoid using them.
A report said some council employees work relatively small hours a year either with or without zero hour contracts.
“This type of working pattern would enable employees to be offered a fixed term or permanent contracts ultimately further reducing the number of zero-hour contracts across the council.”
The council will also write to its contractors highlighting its policy. But the council added zero-hour contracts may be the best option where regular hours cannot be guaranteed such as for teachers of courses that only run if there are enough people.
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 14 Apr 2015
Twenty-two Hartlepool council workers are employed on zero hours contracts.
The number has emerged as proposals were made to scrap the deals, with five of the workers also said to be employed on other contracts with the authority.
A motion was put forward to the full council, urging it to carry out a review of the arrangements it has with workers, as well as its contractors.
It set out how within six months a series of points should be adopted, including a right to request a minimum mount of work and compensation if shifts are cancelled at short notice.
Putting Hartlepool First member David Riddle, who was among those to sign the motion, said the six bullet point suggestions were taken verbatim from Labour leader Ed Miliband’s proposals to scrap the contracts.
The motion set out that the contracts “are incompatible with building a loyal, skilled and productive workforce,” with Councillor Riddle stating they made it hard for households to plan finances.
He added he had been employed on zero hours contracts himself and took on staff using the deals in his own work.
He said: “There might be 20-odd people in that situation, but that’s 20-odd too many.”
It was also backed by fellow Putting Hartlepool First members Geoff Lilley, Steve Gibbon and Kelly Atkinson and backed by Independent Jonathan Brash.
Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher proposed an amendment to refer the matter to the council’s monitoring officer for a robust appraisal to be carried out of the policy ahead of further discussions, with members agreeing.
The Labour member said discussions had been held with trade unions and some posts within the council needed an element of flexibility among the workforce.
Councillor Paul Thompson, independent, said:
“This will be expensive, that’s why employers use them, because they know it will cost them more money.
“I know the Labour Party wants to abolish them nationally and I don’t always agree with Ed Miliband on occasions, but this is one such occasion and I agree with him.”
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 10 Feb 2015
Councillors say they will show how they “stand shoulder to shoulder” with workers by accepting a rise in their allowance.
A motion proposing councillors to not pick up a 2.2 per cent rise was defeated in a full meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council.
The proposal was signed by independent members Jonathan Brash, Paul Thompson and Pamela Hargreaves and Putting Hartlepool First’s David Riddle and Geoff Lilley.
But the suggestion their acceptance of the funds would be “ill-judged and wrong” at a time when many are seeing their wages frozen and slashed was shunned in a vote.
Several in favour of leaving the allowance at £5,825, rather than the increased amount of £5,953, said they have contacted the council’s finance department to say they do not want to be given the extra cash.
Councillor Brash said:
“I don’t disagree with the pay increase for our staff, it’s a well deserved 2.2 per cent. In relation to cuts, our staff have suffered in recent years.
“It’s wrong to even contemplate a rise in our pay at a time when people are suffering in a cost of living crisis.”
Coun Thompson reiterated his view it would be “abhorrent” to be given the additional money.
Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher, a Labour member, said some should be “ashamed” of their low attendance level at meetings, as did Conservative Brenda Loynes.
She said of the increase:
“It’s £10 a month, £7.50 after tax, it’s not a fortune.”
Labour’s Alan Clark, who is a shop steward, said he was among those who believed the rise showed he “stood shoulder to shoulder with my workers”.
Coun Akers-Belcher said no rise had been given to members on two previous occasions in line with a freeze on workers’ pay.
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 09 Feb 2015
Councillors will be formally asked to turn down a pay rise as more members say they will refuse to accept it.
Eight Hartlepool Borough councillors are backing a motion calling for their colleagues to refuse a planned 2.2 per cent increase in their basic allowance.
The objectors say they do not deserve a rise – linked to an agreed 2.2 per cent wage increase for council staff – and believe the money should go towards supporting services.
But the council’s deputy leader says the increase is lower than what was originally proposed and will be the lowest basic allowance in the whole region.
It was previously reported that councillors Jonathan Brash and Pamela Hargreaves, who refer to themselves as Independent Labour but are classed as Independent on the council’s website, did not want the increase from £5,825 to £5,953.
They have been joined by independent Paul Thompson and all Putting Hartlepool First councillors Geoff Lilley, David Riddle, Steve Gibbon and Keith Dawkins.
Coun Riddle said:
“Certain councillors fail to recognise that the reputation of many of our elected councillors has never been lower.
“If we accept this rise it’ll be like a red rag to a bull, it’s like waving two fingers at the public, I want no part of it.”
Councillor Thompson added:
“In July I stated it was abhorrent we were even thinking about any increase especially in the current climate. I stand by that statement, it was abhorrent then and it’s still abhorrent now.”
The rise in councillor allowances was recommended by the Independent Remuneration Panel and was discussed by the full council last July.
A Labour-backed amendment said any rise should be in line with that given to council staff which has since been agreed at Government level.
The motion, which will go before the next full council meeting on Thursday, February 5, states:
“Voting to equate our work and remuneration to that of council staff was ill-judged and wrong.
“They deserve the pay rise and we do not. We therefore call upon all councillors to forgo the 2.2 per cent increase in their allowance, so that the money can go toward supporting services here in Hartlepool.”
Coun Brash said:
“It is important for democracy that the public is fully aware what their politicians are doing.
“Either they think they deserve a pay rise or simply don’t.
“I personally think in the current climate with all the difficulties our residents are going through, to give ourselves a pay rise is totally wrong.”
Deputy council leader Councillor Carl Richardson said:
“The council has received this motion and it will go before the full council at its meeting on February 5.
“As I have said previously, Hartlepool councillors received no increase in their Basic Allowance for four years from 2009/10 to 2012/13 and the full council last year rejected the Independent Remuneration Panel’s recommendation that the Basic Allowance should be increased each year, which would have meant a figure of £6,517 for 2015/16.
“Instead, it agreed an amendment put forward by the Labour Group that councillors should stick to a previous 2013 resolution that they should only receive an increase in their basic allowance in line with any pay increase received by council employees from the Government, as and when that occurred.
“The current increase, which will be payable from January 1, 2015 and will be fixed for 2015/16, will take the councillors’ basic allowance from £5,825 to £5,953.
“It means Hartlepool will still have the lowest councillors’ basic allowance in the North-East – significantly less than the North-East average of £8,965 and way below the highest allowance in the region of £13,300.”
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 24 Jan 2015
Councillors are calling on the Government to bring in a new Robin Hood tax to reverse swingeing cuts.
A group of six Hartlepool councillors put forward a motion for the authority to support a movement calling for greater taxes on the financial sector.
Supporters say the tax will generate £20bn which could be used to fight poverty and help ordinary families.
The motion to support the tax was put forward by independent and Putting Hartlepool First councillors Jonathan Brash, Pamela Hargreaves, Paul Thompson, Kelly Atkinson, Geoff Lilley, John Lauderdale and David Riddle. It was unanimously supported by councillors at a recent full meeting of the council.
It comes just after the council learned that its funding from central government will be £8.3million less for 2015/16 than the previous year.
Hartlepool has seen £30 million less funding since 2010/11 – putting huge pressure on services.
The motion read:
“This council notes the suffering forced upon local residents as a result of this coalition government’s cuts programme and asserts that there is an alternative to its ideologically-driven attack on public services – namely the levy of a financial transaction tax on the speculative activities that have accelerated the recent enrichment of the few to the detriment of the many.
“The council therefore calls upon Government to enact the financial transaction (Robin Hood) tax and use the revenues from this measure to reverse ongoing shrinkage in central grants to our council and public services as a whole.”
The council will now write to Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor George Osborne and Hartlepool MP Iain Wright, pledging their support for the tax.
It would see a 0.05 per cent tax on transactions like stocks, bonds, and foreign currency.
Council leader, Christopher Akers-Belcher, who is also chairman of the finance and policy committee, said: “I do feel it has merit.”
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 30 Dec 2014
Hartlepool councillors are poised to reject the chance of a controversial personal cash boost.
A review carried out by the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) has recommended that Hartlepool councillors should have their basic allowances increased by £250 from £5,767 to £6,017, with further annual increases of £250 in April 2014 and April 2015.
The move sparked anger and calls have been made for the increase to be flatly refused in light of pay freezes which are in place elsewhere in the public sector.
The Hartlepool Mail attempted to contact each of the 33 councillors to ask how they planned to vote ahead of the full council meeting, which takes place at 7pm tomorrow.
Shortly after news of Mail’s survey leaked out, the ruling Labour group moved quickly to issue a statement saying all of its 19 members would vote against the proposal.
The statement from Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher read: “Hartlepool Labour Group will always support our staff at the council as they are the cornerstone of our success. This being the case we shall be reaffirming the principle of our resolution last year (April 11) whereby elected members shall only receive an increase in their basic allowance in-line with that awarded to our staff, as and when their increase is confirmed by Government.
“The basic allowance is paid to fulfil the duties associated with the role of elected members. The Labour Group has accepted our full responsibility and would therefore suggest all opposition councillors fulfil their responsibilities too and fill the vacant positions on committees in line with their allocation rather than avoiding their responsibilities.”
Conservative leader Ray Martin-Wells also said he would register a ‘no’ vote, as did his party colleague Brenda Loynes, while Putting Hartlepool First leader Keith Dawkins and fellow members Geoff Lilley and Kelly Atkinson all said they would also vote against a rise.
PHF member David Riddle, who wrote to all councillors asking them to reject the plan, was not available for comment though has previously made it public knowledge that he is against the move.
UKIP representative George Springer said he was not prepared to tell the Mail how he planned to vote ahead of the meeting, while the council’s other UKIP councillor, Tom Hird, said he planned to abstain.
Independent councillors Jonathan Brash, Pamela Hargreaves and Paul Thompson are all opposed to any pay hike and have pledged to vote against it, though John Lauderdale opted not to make his intentions public knowledge until he is asked for his vote at the meeting.
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 02 July 2014