The mismanagement of the cleansing services by the Glasgow Council is a testament to the city’s neglect of working class interests. The last few years have seen Glasgow City Council roll out a wave of austerity cutbacks on staff despite the obscene wages directors of service receive. Leaving aside the cutbacks to staff numbers at the manual work level, we now have a gravy train of directors of service and management any layman can see is top heavy.
We have 14 directors of service with George Gillespie fronting it up on grade 14 money, which equates to around 170k a year. He has not one, but two assistant directors one grade below him on grade 13 money – around 150k a year. And there is a whole host of grade 11/12 ‘divisional directors’ posts, all of which have salaries above 150k as well.
They are raking in more money than the UK Prime Minister. At a time when services are cut left, right and centre, budgets are being squeezed so badly that libraries, gyms and community centres are now set never to reopen again. Streets are no longer being swept manually due to the lack of staff; cutting frequency has been reduced due to the lack of manpower at the bottom. Those in responsible positions, for the most part, do not even live in Glasgow, and are in total denial about the cleansing crisis.
But the gravy train at the top just keeps getting bigger and more expensive. At most, two or three managers from within this structure could run the City’s services for one-third of the cost if we just allowed them to do it their own way.
Leader of Glasgow City Council Susan Aitken will say budgets have increased for NRS (Neighbourhoods Regeneration and Sustainability) over the last 4 years. If that’s the case, where is the investment? In fact, this is an admission that the departments are badly run. Money has been wasted on pointless initiatives such as the Council’s decision to replace every litter bin in the City.
It has become apparent that none of the services that have received funding from the Council have improved the livelihood of residents. To top it all, Aitken has further demonstrated just how out of touch she is by making tone-deaf comments on the “questionable” affiliations of trade unionists.
Our esteemed directors of service refuse to consider any reasonable proposals on increasing manpower, as it would mean getting rid of at least half of their jobs and massively inflated salaries.
The current shift pattern has been set up with an implicit aim to maintain jobs at a certain level, i.e., at white-collar level (all under the guise of best value for Glasgow!) But the workers at the bottom end can no longer maintain this unequal balance and provide the services that working class communities rely on.
And this is just one part of the City Council’s departments. The wastage and unreasonable management of the social care and other departments are disasters of their own.
We need investment; we need an educational programme for the general public, and of course, we need enforcement to back all this up. Us at the GMB will never stop fighting for job creation.
Barry McAreavey, is a cleansing worker of over 25 years and GMB shop steward