THURROCK Council has been threatened with legal action if councillors don’t reconsider vetoing a 4 per cent pay rise for senior managers.
In June, Thurrock Council’s general services committee voted against a 4 per cent increase backdated to April for senior managers and directors, against a backdrop of the financial disaster faced by the effectively bankrupt authority.
At the latest committee meeting on Thursday, Chief Executive, Dr Dave Smith, informed councillors they had not been advised that the council could face costly egal action, with senior managers turning to tribunals to get an awarded recommended by an independent review.
Speaking at the meeting, Mr Smith, said: “The impact for us of this, and why the advice is now so strong to accept the position around the 4 per cent, is, both in terms of the financial consequences of this, which is far and above the consequences of pay at 4 per cent, the reputational damage this will do in terms of both industrial relations and also the consequences of intervention.
“Perhaps in some ways the most problematic of all the damage it would do is in terms of our ability to attract good candidates to the roles that we are seeking to fill at senior management level led us to feel this needed to be brought back to you to further consider in the light of all those issues.”
In response, Luke Spillman, Conservative councillor for Ockendon, said: “My view is that you produced a half-baked report in June then got an answer that ended up being been problematic then got some more information that should have been provided to the committee at the time and realised you had to come back with this alternative proposal.
“I’m absolutely appalled at this pay award and I know that a lot of people will be. It’s an insult to the people of Thurrock.”
Mr Spillman called for a consultation with managers calling on them to voluntarily accept a 2 per cent rise.
Speaking after the meeting he said: “I’m appalled that our senior officers are so lacking in awareness of the wider Thurrock community that they would accept a 4 per pay rise considering recent events and difficult future choices we face.
“ I’m incredulous that we could have a senior officer core so lacking in moral fibre that they could threaten legal action against the Council in order to secure this 4 per cent increase.”
Despite Mr Spillman’s opposition the committee agreed to recommend the pay award of 4 per cent from April 1, 2023, to council and for a review of on-going pay awards for senior managers.