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Opinion piece - job losses may be necessary, but in the right places

January 11, 2014 7:50 PM

The Chief Executive of the Welsh Local Government Organisation has warned that more than 10,000 jobs could be lost in Welsh Councils in the next four years as a result of public sector spending cuts.

This may well be the case, cutbacks in services will result in fewer staff, but were they all strictly speaking needed in the first place, and will the cuts come in the right places?

The Public Sector is a major employer in Wales, but over the years in the Valleys Labour heartlands it has far too often been seen as providing too many 'jobs for the boys' and traditionally jobs for life. In cases where the latter hasn't proved possible then in RCT huge redundancy payments have been handed out, depleting the public purse by millions and leaving less money for front line services.

Public sector employees have become used to perks not available to those in the private sector - substantial pensions paid for by the taxpayer for instance. Resistance has been high to any suggestion of cuts there, yet is it right that they should get these benefits?

Of course the real problem is the uneven spread across the range of employees. Fat cat managers at the top of the pile sit comfortably, such as the RCT Chef Executive on £141,000 plus benefits. A raft of Group Directors and Heads of Service follow and a tier of middle management all doing very nicely thank you very much. An ever increasing pool of pen pushers in many cases it seems. Of course lots of them do a good job and are necessary, but do we need quite so many?

Then at the bottom the people who do the daily graft, the refuse collectors, the street cleaning teams, the home care workers, and countless others who often we only notice when they are not there.

They were the ones who were hit when RCT reviewed workers terms and conditions - a review which didn't apply to those lofty individuals on more than £42,000 a year. They are the ones who will undoubtedly lose out when the champagne socialists in the Labour party decide on their priorities. Priorities that are far removed from those of most of the residents they are supposed to represent.

Despite the insistence of the Labour Cabinet that the opposition have no alternatives to their savage cuts we do have some suggestions.

Cut a tier of management to start with - why do we need so many Managers reporting to Senior Managers reporting to Directors? Especially when it seems there is so often the need to go out to external consultants for advice on subjects that surely those managers are paid for their 'expertise' in?

Take an axe to the PR department that is nothing more than a Labour propaganda machine. Never was there a better example of 'jobs for the boys' than putting a former Labour candidate, the son of a Cabinet Member, a card carrying party supporter, in charge of a department especially constructed for him.

Nobody wants to see people made redundant, but there are certain people who have had it easy for too long. Job cuts may be necessary, but please let's see them in the right places.

Karen Roberts