The Welsh Liberal Democrats Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black has joined the controversy over the decision by Bridgend County Borough Council to freeze the pay of their staff as a money-saving measure.
Mr. Black has described the decision as setting a dangerous precedent that will create regional pay within the Welsh public sector and has called on the First Minister to disown his Labour colleagues' actions in the light of his own condemnation of regional pay in the recent past.
"Action by the Liberal Democrats within the UK Coalition killed off any suggestion of regional pay within the UK," said Mr. Black, "but now Welsh public sector workers face a new threat to their pay and conditions from Labour politicians in our town halls. The excuse given by Bridgend's Labour bosses that they have taken this decision because of UK government cuts does not stand up to scrutiny. No other Council in Wales is pursuing this course. This is down to mismanagement not prudent budgeting.
"We saw news recently for example that Bridgend Council spent £900,000 on covering staff sickness in one department in one year, whilst the council's 7,000 workers took an average of 10 days off sick in 2011 and 2012,more than twice the UK average of 4.4 days. It is fundamentally wrong to target staff by cutting their pay when there are other efficiencies that can be pursued. There should be one rate for the job, not a different rate for the same job depending on your postcode.
"I hope that Labour Councillors throw out this morally indefensible idea and I expect the First Minister, with his interest in Bridgend to be far more proactive in opposing it."