Wales politics

Caerphilly Labour councillors' apology for chief's pay

The Unison protest
Image caption Unison members protested about a pay rise for the Caerphilly council chief executive

Labour councillors in Caerphilly have apologised for pay rises awarded to the authority's top officials after protests by trade unions.

The council's Labour leadership said it would take legal advice on whether it was possible to revoke the award.

Staff had protested against a decision to increase the pay grade of the council's chief executive by £27,000.

Public sector trade union Unison welcomed the assurance as a "step in the right direction".

Union members lobbied a meeting of Caerphilly council's Labour group on Tuesday night at the council's headquarters in Ystrad Mynach.

They demanded the council rescind a decision to increase council chief executive Anthony O'Sullivan's pay grade from a maximum of £131,000 to £158,000.

In a statement issued after the meeting, Labour councillors said they "apologise, accept and wholly understand the concerns expressed by staff, trade unions and members of the public for the recent senior remuneration pay decision by a unanimous vote of a cross-party delegated committee".

The group agreed it would arrange an urgent meeting before Christmas with unions to discuss the decision-making process that led to the pay rise.

It said the council leadership would "investigate the possibility of rescinding the decision based upon independent legal advice".

In future, the full council will decide on remuneration levels for senior managers, it added.

Unison Caerphilly branch secretary Gary Enright said: "This statement by the Labour group is a step in the right direction, and sets the platform for future engagement with this administration.

'Wholly understand concerns'

"It is testament and commendable that this administration apologise, accept and wholly understand the concerns expressed by staff, trade unions and members of the public."

The council has previously said a cross-party committee reviewed pay arrangements for senior staff.

Minutes of a meeting where the pay rise was agreed were presented to the full council in October without any concerns being raised. It added that Mr O'Sullivan's pay met an independent external pay scheme.

Caerphilly Labour MP Wayne David welcomed the councillors' apology.

"I am very pleased that the council's Labour group has recognised the strength of feeling amongst the general public and council employees," he said.

"I had received many emails from constituents who were extremely concerned about the decision. I shared their concern.

"I am sure that if it is legally possible to reverse the initial decision, it will be reversed. The Labour group, having listened to the people, must now begin the urgent task of rebuilding the confidence and trust of the people of the Caerphilly borough."

Plaid Cymru councillor Colin Mann, who leads the second-biggest group on Caerphilly council, said: "The rises proposed were and are still utterly unacceptable, particularly at a time when council workers have seen their pay frozen for three years".

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