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TOWN HAUL; EXCLUSIVE Council chiefs' bonanza as low-paid workers walk out.

Byline: PAUL GILFEATHER Whitehall Editor

HUGE secret pay increases given to council leaders are exposed today - as their low-wage workers go on strike for a better deal.

The Town Hall chiefs have seen their incomes rocket through a special responsibility allowance.

That was the "bad news" spin doctor Jo Moore thought could be buried on September 11.

Now - on the eve of today's walkout by council staff, many of whom earn less than pounds 5 an hour - the GMB union has named the Labour chiefs who have pocketed the biggest rises.

GMB boss John Edmonds said: "The greed of the new breed of town hall fat cats is matched only by their hypocrisy.

"How can Labour leaders accept such increases at the same time as demanding restraint from some of the lowest paid workers.

"It's no wonder ministers went to such incredible lengths to stop news leaking out."

The council chiefs do not draw salaries, but are paid through various allowances.

Newcastle City Council leader Tony Flynn collected pounds 16,686 before claiming the new responsibility allowance. Now he gets pounds 34,451. In contrast, council-employed cook Margaret Harrex earns about pounds 7,000.

Bristol's Diane Bunyan saw her income rise by pounds 20,000 to pounds 29,230. Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, claims pounds 48,880 - taking his total to pounds 62,594.

Street cleaner Ian Greeves, one of today's strikers, is on just over pounds 9,200 a year.

In Manchester, city chief Richard Leese's income has soared from pounds 33,005 to pounds 45,209. Local Government Association leader Sir Jeremy Beecham collects almost pounds 50,000.

Today's 24-hour stoppage will see 1.2million staff walk out over a three per cent offer. They want six.

Schools, libraries and leisure centres will close. In Newcastle, 99 out of 102 schools will shut.

Unison chief Dave Prentis said: "If anybody believes it is a token strike, they are very wrong."


FURIOUS: GMB's Mr Edmonds
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 17, 2002
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