It was a bad day at Cornwall Council on Tuesday and not just for the wasted time and personal attacks coordinated by the LibDems.
It showed, and not for the first time, that media manipulation
and political spin are more favoured than honest admittance of
failure. And it indicates a rottenness at the core of the
LibDem/Indy administration at County Hall.
In 2014, with much publicity, the Council became a 'Living Wage'
employer. I expressed reservations about this; it was an exercise in
tokenism as the Council did not propose to do it for indirect staff
such as Cormac and carers.
Secondly, I was worried about its
affordability when there would be a need to preserve other staff's
differentials. These concerns were brushed aside.
However, apparently the Council quietly capped its obligations to
pay the Living Wage at 3 per cent per year.
In October 2015 they were told the Living Wage would involve a 5.1
per cent increase.
Naturally, you would assume that the Council would pay 3 per cent
(assuming you knew of the cap). But no. The Council did not offer to pay anything at all. They
took the view that the wording of the 'cap' was such that, if the
increment exceeded 3 per cent, staff got nothing at all under this
If there was a drafting error then the Council should not have
sought to rely on it. It was a clear breach of good faith, cutting
across the staff ballot, whereby better paid staff had given up some
of their rights to allow lower paid staff the Living Wage.
The Council need to ask themselves some very serious questions
about the manner in which they deal with staff and their union
representatives in the future.
This represents a fundamental breach of trust.
The Council also sought to cover it up. They only finally told
members what had occurred on the Saturday of a Bank Holiday weekend.
So yesterday, in a fit of embarrassment, the Council voted to pay the
Living Wage (uncapped) for one year and think again next year.