Councils’ workers in wage loss of £2m for big strike

Striking council staff and teachers forfeited £2 million in wages by going on strike for a day, it can be revealed.

Striking council staff and teachers forfeited £2 million in wages by going on strike for a day, it can be revealed.

Figures obtained by the Express & Star reveal that 29,131 council workers in Staffordshire and the Black Country had money docked from their pay for walking out on November 30.

More than £1m in wages was forfeited by striking staff in Staffordshire alone, while across the whole region a further 2,611 staff working for emergency services and the NHS had their pay docked by more than £170,000.

Councils are now able to use the money they have saved to help offset millions of pounds of spending cuts.

It has taken until now to find out the sums and numbers of people involved because staff were given two months to come up with other reasons why they might not have been in work on the day of the biggest public sector strike in more than 80 years.

Most authorities refused to answer a Freedom of Information Act request until after the January payroll had been calculated. Public sector workers, from lollipop and dinner ladies to teachers and librarians, stayed away in a row over pension reform.

Hospitals were forced to get senior managers and back office workers onto the reception desks while police civilian staff put pressure on control rooms, detention suites, forensics and enquiries by walking out.

Today there were calls for councils to use the money they saved to offer parking discounts and offset the cuts they are having to make to cope with cut government grants.

One MP has even said councils should question whether they need all the workers who walked out because “the world did not stop”.

Sandwell Council is offering community groups the chance to bid for a  £15,000 pot of cash that has come from the salaries that were docked by striking.

However the council revealed it saved itself £217,357 from 3,419 striking workers, 911 teachers and 1,054 who did not come into work.

Schools were forced to shut and parents faced major disruption on November 30 as they had to find alternative arrangements for their children.

More than 300 Cannock Chase Council staff downed tools, along with another 140 from the Lichfield authority, while 8,324 teachers and council staff from Staffordshire County Council also went on strike.

Ministers say public sector workers enjoy “gold plated” pensions that are unsustainable as Britain is trying to rein in its massive public spending deficit.

Chris Kelly, Conservative MP for Dudley South, said: “It was a major strike and had a huge impact on public services.”

Aidan Burley, MP for Cannock Chase, added: “The salary forfeited by the striking workers across Staffordshire and now saved in the councils’ bank accounts should be used to immediately fund temporary free parking in our town centres.”

Councillor Roger Lawrence, leader of Wolverhampton City Council, said the money saved would be used to the benefit of the community.

He said: “We have asked for a report suggesting using part of this for the voluntary sector.”