£400,000 saved in strike wages

A packed Barkers Pools for the TUC day of action over pensions
A packed Barkers Pools for the TUC day of action over pensions
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SHEFFIELD Council saved £405,000 in wages when thousands of workers went on strike in a pensions dispute last month.

Some 45 per cent of the authority’s workforce took part in the November 30 strike.

They joined teachers, civilian police staff, nurses, radiographers, physiotherapists and other workers in the biggest industrial action seen in a generation.

Now the council’s Liberal Democrat opposition councillors are calling for the windfall to be used to create extra job placements for local young people.

They say the £405,000 would create nearly 100 new apprenticeship posts, which would nearly double the scheme currently being run by the Labour council.

Lib Dem leader Coun Shaffaq Mohammed said: “Whatever you thought about the strikes, the fact is they have seen the council benefit from an extra £405,000 in unpaid wages that hadn’t been budgeted for.

“Given the council’s budget is already projected to underspend, this extra money should be invested in providing job opportunities for Sheffield’s young people. We can’t afford to leave our young men and women on the scrap heap.

“We need the next generation to help us build a new economy.”

But trade union leaders reacted furiously to the proposals.

Mark Keeling, Unite’s Sheffield Council convener said if anything, the money should go towards safeguarding the hundreds of council jobs that are currently at risk.

He said: “It’s terrible the mess this government has put us in.

“I’m going to redundancy meetings on a daily basis now, and £405,000 could keep many people in work, to protect the services they are providing for this city.”

Peter Davies, GMB Sheffield organiser, said: “If the Lib Dems really wanted to put Sheffield and our young unemployed before politics they’d get out of the Tory party’s bed.”

He added: “This proposal is yet another sign of their desperation.”