Star date: 21st March 2013 


Salford City Mayor, Ian Stewart, has twice this week made reference to "extremists" pushing out "downright lies" to further "the politics of chaos".

First a press release was issued about the Council's Pay and Grading Agreement, with Stewart slating the "handful of extremists who tried to derail this agreement and misrepresent what we were trying to do for their own extreme political ends".

And at yesterday's full Salford Council meeting he raged that the Agreement process was "fraught with misinformation and downright lies"…Is Mr Stewart correct. Or is he losing the plot? 

Full details here…

Salford Pay and Grading Table
click image to enlarge


It was back in November when Salford City Mayor, Ian Stewart, launched a very public, very thinly veiled attack on the Salford Star, accusing this publication of "lies". The Salford Star wrote a very public, open letter back to him disproving every point he made. To date there has been no reply – for the full article click here

Then, this month, Councillor Gena Merrett, Salford's Assistant Mayor for Housing and the Environment wrote on her website that the Salford Star was a "key supporter of an extreme left-wing political party that aims to 'smash The Labour Council and the Labour Party'" and accused the Star of producing a housing story that was "far from accurate". Again the Star wrote an open letter, answering her every wrong, slanderous remark - for the full article click here.

This week, the Salford Mayor has been busy attacking the city's trade unions (and maybe the Salford Star again, who knows?), firstly in a press release and, secondly at the full meeting of Salford Council yesterday.

The tirade was centred around the Pay and Grading Agreement, which was accepted by Salford Council's workforce last week, after a ballot. Ian Stewart put out a press release stating "This overwhelming result in favour of the new structure is a slap in the face for the handful of extremists who tried to derail this agreement and misrepresent what we were trying to do for their own extreme political ends."

And in the Council chamber yesterday Stewart reported to councillors that reaching the Agreement had been "fraught with misinformation and downright lies from people with vested interests".

He added that the "misinformation" concerned the allegation that 60% of the Council workforce would lose money in the new pay structure. This, he repeated, was "downright lies".

Indeed, after reading Salford Council's Pay and Grading Consultation Report last October, all three trade unions that represent Salford Council workers - Salford City UNISON, GMB and UNITE the union - sent a circular to their members branding the Report "completely unacceptable" and accusing Salford Council of "bully boy tactics, especially from a Labour Council" (for further details see here).

The unions were furious because the Report threatened to sack staff who didn't sign up to the new Agreement and re-employ them on new terms. It also stated that, by 2017/18, 58% of staff would have had their wages cut (see photo of table).

Official Salford Council figures showed that almost 60% of the workforce would lose money under the agreement. It's there in black and white. Yet Stewart continues to say that the unions were guilty of "downright lies" and "misinformation".

As a result of the Consultation Report, lobbies of the Council were organised and there was a mass meeting of around 200 UNISON members which voted to "instigate an industrial action ballot of all UNISON members affected by these proposals".

Mr Stewart is now saying that this was all the work of a "handful of extremists who tried to derail this agreement and misrepresent what we were trying to do for their own extreme political ends."

Like, looking after their members' interests, Mr Mayor? Indeed, it can easily be argued that the backlash from staff and the trade unions forced Salford Council to think again about its proposals and come up with a better, less intimidating offer…

…Under the final Agreement, almost 10% (629) of staff will face a pay cut, others will either stay the same or get a wage rise, while the Living Wage of £7.45 an hour will be brought in for lowest paid staff.

Had the original proposal gone ahead, without a fight, the figures showed that almost 60% of Council staff would have had a pay cut. Trade union members were balloted on the revised offer and accepted it last week. UNISON didn't recommend that staff vote for or against the change.

Originally three trade unions opposed Salford Council's pay proposals, backed up by lobbies and at least two mass meetings of workers. Can all those hundreds of people involved really be a "handful of extremists"? Or is Salford's Mayor losing the plot?

At the end of one of his speeches at yesterday's Council meeting, Ian Stewart railed against the "naysayers" trying to bring "the politics of chaos" to Salford… "We're democrats, not revolutionaries" he frothed.

Perhaps Salford's Mayor, and his Labour Party team of Assistant Mayors, councillors and spin doctors, might like to try acting like `democrats' – instead of morphing into a horrid mixture of Stalin and McCarthy, smearing anyone who dares to disagree with, or question their actions.


Responding to Ian Stewart's remarks, Steve North, Salford City UNISON branch secretary, gave a very diplomatic statement…

"The specific comments made in the press release are disappointing and we have written to the Mayor to say as much. 333 of our members voted to reject the proposals. While they were the minority in this case, their concerns are understandable and must be listened to.

"We look forward to the implementation of the positive aspects of these proposals, especially the commitment to extending the Living Wage to other workers in the city. At the same time we need to focus on what we can do to mitigate against and minimise losses during the period of pay protection, and hope that the Mayor and Council will assist in that aim.

"One of the first things the Mayor could do to help, is to state that he believes local government workers should be offered more than the measly 1% national pay award we have received from our employers nationally, an offer UNISON has rejected.

"We also hope he can approach the Local Government Employers and the Local Government Association and help us get them back around the table with a fairer offer. The letter we have written to him asks for his support and we hope to receive a positive reply."

Bernard Brough wrote
at 14:44:44 on 27 March 2013
Mr Felse, Stewart cares about one thing, doing as his Conservative lite bosses tell him.
Michael Felse wrote
at 09:38:57 on 26 March 2013
I am sure Mayor Stewart would like nothing better than to walk away from the demands of the Con-Dem cuts being forced on Salford Council. Truth is he never gave any sign of being the sort to run away. What those kicking him should ask is why does our Mayor keep reshaping policy to keep Salford alive. Could it just be that the man cares about finding innovative ways to balance the books for which the people of Salford elected him to manage. He should stay at the wheel to steer this ship past troubled waters.
Moremf wrote
at 22:31:20 on 25 March 2013
This overwhelming result in favour of the new structure is a slap in the face for the handful of extremists who tried to derail this agreement and misrepresent what we were trying to do for their own extreme political ends.
insider wrote
at 07:19:11 on 25 March 2013
"Lost the Plot" ? The Mayor never had a plot! He has a nero approach to Salford - Fiddle whilst the City burns! As for Scary Spicer she continues to be a financial burden on the good people of Salford.
No fan of Stewart wrote
at 16:33:03 on 24 March 2013
@not a brain dead labour voter, you must be joking a taxi from Salford to Scotland would cost a fortune, why go to all that expence when we could just put him in the back of a bin cart with the rest of the shit drive it up to Scotland and tip it on the other side of the border. I do feel this would be a more fitting way for Mr Stewart to leave this city.
Ripped off employee wrote
at 10:45:41 on 24 March 2013
So according to Mr Stewart a "living wage" is £7.45 per hour based on a 40hr week this makes a salary of £15496.00 over the year before tax. So the question is Mr Stewart, why is it that you think you are worth £69000.00 a year, over 5 times that of employees of Salford council who you say you are doing a favor for by giving them a living wage. Yes your wage was "recommended" by an outside committee but you did not need to accept that. Scary spicer is rumoured to earn £200k a year which means she is getting paid £16666.00 a month which is £96.15 per hour. How can either of you look any council worker in the eye and say you care.
not a brain dead labour voter wrote
at 07:58:37 on 24 March 2013
fingers crossed, Scotland votes for independence next year, then we can hire a taxi for Stewart to sod off back there, along with all the other Scot's that screwed this country up ie Brown, Blear,Campbell,Cameron, they can take billy bunter Prescott with them as well. England needs an English parliament to represent the the down trodden Englishman.
An Extremist wrote
at 21:23:11 on 23 March 2013
I voted to reject the pay and grading proposal and in doing so, according to Mr Stewart this makes me an extremist wanting to further my own political agenda. Let me tell you Mr Stewart, my so called political agenda is how to put food on the table for my family,pay my bills and run my car (a necessity for my job) without falling in to debt. I have not had a pay rise since 2009, in fact I have experienced pay cuts, firstly the loss of my essential car user allowance, and then secondly the edict that I must now pay parking charges to park my car at work - despite the council insisting in my contract that a car is essential for my work. The pay and grading, will see me having a pay cut and losing over £1000 a year in addition to what I have previously lost and my colleagues fair worse, as they will be losing over £2000 per year, bringing their pay to under £21000 for a highly skilled role, where due to cuts we are greatly over stretched and under resourced. The lies and misinformation came from the council, such as there will be no more than a 2 scale point decrease, when in fact far too many are seeing a decrease of 3 scale points, the figures regarding 'losers' as the council like to call us, is not accurate as the council have refused to give details of those who whilst not actually getting a pay cut will see their progression thwarted, they too are losers.
Jimmy wrote
at 20:46:20 on 23 March 2013
Michael Felse, if it's not about the money then why did nobody say they would do it for just the average salford wage?
Michael Felse wrote
at 16:08:04 on 23 March 2013
Ian. Thanks for the rant, will remember to stand up wind from you at the Irwell. But get the facts right. Me and no doubt others in Salford stood because we want changes. This fight was at our own expense from our own pocket so do not presume all are in this for the money. My time and money was about a better place to live and nothing more complicated. My here and now tells me it has to be Labour (without the party whip).
Ian O'Brien wrote
at 07:49:59 on 23 March 2013
Further, and on a more serious note - has this mad forgotten where he is and what side of the political divide he purports to stand?/ This is supposed to be a 'Labour man', in the city which helped give the world the Communist Manifesto./ Okay, perhaps he is not a communist in thought or approach, but surely he would not denigrate Marx and Engels - two men who have been labelled extremists many times over by the Right./ The fact of the matter is, this man wants to take his ball home./ He has spat his dummy out./ Here is another of the hangers on to the coat tails of Salfords proud, Labour movement history, who really couldn't give a flying toss about those of us who, for generations, have made this city what it is./ The more these people open their mouths, the more I hear the dulcet tones of Thatcher, oozing out./ What a shock it must be to find that the people of Salford are not the backward stereotypes paraded on junk TV shows like Jeremy Kyle after all. / What a horror to discover that Salfordians have a voice and, in the Salford Star, a medium to articulate their feelings./ Every day more and more people tell me they are reading the Salford Star./ My oldest brother in fact, 50 years and counting, sent me a text yesterday saying "The Salford Star really tells it how it is, doesn't it ourkid!"/ Yes, it does, and if this is radical or extreme then more power to them, because the Labour movement was built on such - which only goes to prove that these germs are not Labour at all./ As for Michael Felse - give it a rest./ You are no different then any of these creeps, wanting a shot at the trough./ The only honest man is he who refuses to take part in this political game of who can accrue the most wealth and power before retirement./ Anybody seeking any kind of public office is somebody I wouldn't trust as far as I could piss into a strong wind coming off the Irwell./There is my democratic right to free speech.
Ian O'Brien wrote
at 07:49:55 on 23 March 2013
If he is losing the plot, he's in the right place - Salford has some of the best support services for people who have disabilities and mental health issu......oh. That's right. He has just gotten rid of them all.
not a brain dead labour voter wrote
at 19:56:04 on 22 March 2013
@Michael false, wrong the government is not forcing these cut on us, it's this labour controlled council that are doing that, this labour council are doing this to score political point towards the next general election, as I have said in the past Salford reds, BBC philharmonic, lowry, ect. or social services, elderly, museums,carers. which of the above will make people at the next general election vote labour, think about it!!!!!!! that's right it's not the reds or philharmonic. the government doesn't tell local councils what to spend there money on, this labour council do,s, and they say that the reds and the philharmonic are more important than social services or the elderly or any other council service, because it suits there political agenda
life is loud wrote
at 12:52:50 on 22 March 2013
Good comments MF
Michael Felse wrote
at 07:06:05 on 22 March 2013
TB, wrong, I am exercising my democratic speech as a paid up Council Tax payer. Winston. wrong, I support the elected Mayor in his rightful first past the post score but I do not support any of the forced Con-Dem policies. Labour would not cause such pains if they had a Government majority. The evil lies in London.
jimmy newton wrote
at 21:40:33 on 21 March 2013
Salford city clowncil #50yearsoffailure
TB wrote
at 21:40:29 on 21 March 2013
Michael Felse, please find a stone to go and crawl back under. Your bandwagon jumping is begining to get annoying.
Stephen Morris wrote
at 17:36:42 on 21 March 2013
Calling anyone who disagrees with his policies as "Extremists" shows that Ian Stewart really does have his back against a wall and is incapable of doing the job. Yes there are issues with the ConDem funding arrangments for Councils however Salford Council under the leadership of Merry and now Stewart have not helped with their mismanagement of tax payers money on pet projects and the Salford Rugby debacle to name a few.
Winston Smith wrote
at 17:36:17 on 21 March 2013
@Michael Felse - you wouldn't be heroically facing jail for fighting the evil government, because you've already said elsewhere on this site that we should support 'our' mayor and he's certainly not facing jail for doing the government's dirty work, is he?
Do They Care? wrote
at 16:48:39 on 21 March 2013
Keep it up Salford Star, they hate the publicity more than the truth.
Michael Felse wrote
at 16:48:31 on 21 March 2013
Fair comments on all sides, Salford politics is getting interesting, should make national news by Xmas. I am glad that I did not win the Mayor crown because I would have been facing jail for opposing Con-Dem national policies that are destroying jobs, investment and lives in Salford.
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