|Coventry council leader George Duggins and Conservative group leader Tim Sawdon|
Labour councillors in Coventry have voted through a pay-rise for themselves despite Tory opposition. The Conservative group proposed an amendment that would freeze councillors' pay in solidarity with struggling workers, but Labour blocked it and pushed through the pay rise at a full council meeting on Tuesday. Introducing his amendment, Tory group leader Cllr Tim Sawdon said: "When many of our constituents have lost their jobs or been furloughed with a 20 per cent pay cut, I think it is incumbent upon us to make a gesture of support".
The 2.75 per cent pay rise was supported by both the council leader and his deputy and will also be backdated to include 2020, a move likely to stir anger in the city. The Coventry Telegraph quoted council leader Cllr George Duggins: "This would have gone through in February had the case have been made then and I think most people thought they would automatically get the increase in line with our employees and frankly it’s right we should be linked with our employees. If they don’t get a pay increase neither do we and nor should we, but if they do so should we so there is a clear synergy between our employees and ourselves as councillors". Sorry George, but the case wasn't made in February because the economy-crippling pandemic had yet to unfold!
His colleague Cllr Abdul Khan also defended the pay rise: "We are not asking for more money, what we are asking is to continue the system as it has been operating for the last 20 years". His Labour colleagues on Tory-led Oxfordshire County Council begged to differ. Meeting on the same day, councillors there universally rejected a pay rise, although Labour did not have the numbers to push through a rise even if they'd wanted to. A pay rise was also unanimously rejected by Tory-dominated Richmondshire District Council, where there are no Labour councillors. The Conservative leader of Lincolnshire County Council said a pay rise will be also rejected there (although the Labour opposition said they would support it).
It appears that pay rises can be rejected, unless Labour are in charge. It's no coincidence that while many Tory MPs have voiced opposition to the proposed 4.1 per cent pay rise for MPs, Labour members remain tight-lipped. The Mail on Sunday recently quoted unnamed Labour MPs as being highly critical of Tory members voicing opposition to the proposed pay rise by IPSA (Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority).
Any suggestion of pay rises for politicians ought to be completely out of the question while ordinary people face pay freezes and millions face unemployment. It's little wonder that the red wall fell and working classes continue to abandon Labour.