ET calls on council leader to intervene in council pay row:

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This week county council leader Jim Harker faced some of the staff set to receive significant pay cuts as part of a wide-scale review of salaries.

He listened to them talk about pay cuts of up to £10,000 a year and worries about paying their mortgage and saving for retirement, but told them it was a necessary review of pay structures.

After a night to consider the pleas by council staff for the council to reconsider, the Evening Telegraph asked Cllr Harker, is there nothing the council can do to help these workers?

He told them: “The pay review was requested by Government about two years ago and they said that all local authorities had to introduce this pay review. The way it has been organised is that the council agreed responsibility would be delegated to the council officers.

“I have complete confidence in my officers to carry it out.

“A number of speakers made very good points on their personal position and I have no doubt these points will be listened to through the established appeal process.”

The staff affected are among the lowest paid workers and include teaching assistants and care workers.

The new pay scale will see salaries cut by up to 25 per cent. One teaching assistant at a special needs school says she will be on £7,500 less a year.

Cllr Harker’s own income from the council was £50,935 last year, which was up from £49,786 the year before. This includes a basic allowance of £7,086, a special responsibility allowance of £34,408 and travelling and subsistence expenses.

When asked whether he could cope with a 25 per cent cut to his income, he said: “That is not a relevant question, it is not what the review is about.

“The point is that the appeals process is ready and properly established to make sure people are being treated fairly.”

The Evening Telegraph also had some questions for chief executive Paul Blantern, who is ultimately responsible for conducting the review, about why the cuts could not be phased in.

But the council said it wasn’t willing to answer the questions.

A county council spokesman said: “Due to ongoing negotiations, we are unable to comment further on the details of the pay and benefits review.”

Jonathan Hornett, of Northants Green Party said “His medalling is sickening and he quite obviously does not care one bit about the people of Northants. He’s a Conservative through and through and what was meant by Labour as an equality restructure of pay in the public services has been turned sour by these wicked Tories.”

“I know lots of hardworking care staff and teaching assistants who believed that their pay may have increased with these actions, but all have had their pay cut. Does anyone actually know anyone who has benefited from this pay re-structuring? It’s a con from the conservatives and should be ConDemned by everyone else.”

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