Labour group in Aberdeen Council accused of hypocrisy over pay award

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By a Newsnet reporter
 
A recent decision by the newly elected Labour administration at Aberdeen City Council to award themselves a 5% pay rise has been branded as ‘hypocritical’ after the reason they gave for the pay award was revealed as one they themselves had opposed in the past.

SNP North East MSP Mark McDonald has revealed that the Labour group, when in opposition, argued vehemently against the very logic they have now used to justify their own pay increases.

There was anger when Labour, who emerged as the largest group after the local elections, decided to give senior councillors a whopping five per cent pay award only days after forming the administration.

Labour defended the pay increase by claiming that the 5% pay rises for individual senior councillors was justified because there was less money being spent overall.

However Newsnet Scotland has learned that in 2009, the same Labour group argued against offering higher salaries for newly created Head of Service positions at the council, despite the overall payments being lower.

At the time Labour Councillor Willie Young, now convenor of finance, argued:

“This is a slap in the face and a kick in the teeth to those other employees in the council who work just as hard.”

Labour group leader, Barney Crockett, who now leads the council, argued:

“Those in middle-management have worked just as hard, but their pay has not increased.”

The Head of Service salaries were boosted in a bid to attract high quality applications for the newly created posts.

An analysis of salaries paid to senior councillors demonstrates that the current administration is paying more, on a like for like basis, than the previous administration.

Commenting, Mr McDonald said:

“Labour are skewered by their own hypocrisy.  Even if their bizarre logic is to be followed, it is the same logic which they disagreed with in relation to the Head of Service salaries.

“Of course the reality is that Labour are actually paying more, on a like for like basis, than the previous administration, so their logic does not even stand up to scrutiny.

“The difference then was that those salaries were designed to attract high quality applicants, Labour’s pay rise is all about lining their own pockets.

“It is still not too late for Councillors Crockett, Young, and the rest of their administration to do the honourable thing and restore their wages to the levels being paid to SNP and Lib Dem convenors and vice convenors.

“Councillor Crockett has claimed these wage increases are a sign of ‘strong leadership’.  I think people would see leadership as being more about policies, and it is telling that that there has not been a single policy announcement from the new administration, which will make folk wonder what they have done to deserve an instant pay rise.”

The statements from Cllrs Young and Crockett attacking pay rises were reported in the Evening Express.  The newspaper also reported that the Unite, GMB and UCATT unions all lodged objections with the council about the higher pay.

It wasn’t the only time Councillor Young had attacked the notion of pay rises.  In 2011, with the council facing cuts, he said:

“How can you say to the public, ‘We are cutting services, reducing teacher numbers, freezing council staff pay, but we are going to take a pay rise anyway?’”

Last week Cllr Crockett described the awarding of himself and other Labour colleagues a five per cent pay rise as showing “strong leadership”.

Committee conveners on Aberdeen’s Labour-led coalition will now get £28,410, while under the previous leadership those positions were paid £26,989.