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Archive for September, 2011

Working together benefits all

Monday, September 26th, 2011

As everyone’s aware, we are in the midst of some economically challenging times which are impacting on all our lives. Now, more than ever we are seeing on a daily basis, businesses struggle and with it jobs under threat.

In my opinion that is why the role of trade unions, as the defenders of workers’ rights, has become more important than ever before. If jobs are under threat, who are better placed to fight on their behalf?

That is why the council passed an amendment to a resolution last Tuesday night which defended the council’s statutory obligation to pay for union representatives for its workers.

But union representatives are also an important resource for employers, such as Tameside Council. As well as making a significant contribution to increasing productivity they make workplaces safer, reduce costs of recruitment and help businesses (such as ours) become more responsive to change by helping staff acquire new skills in addition to updating those they already have.

Right from the outset, the massive savings this council is being forced to make has been done in full consultation with the unions. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Their role has been absolutely crucial in ensuring the best possible outcome for the council and its staff.

Only by working together will we all be able to move forward together and face, head on, what are sure to be more difficult decisions as we navigate our way towards the calmer waters of economic prosperity.

Pensions tensions

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Pensions seem to be in the news a great deal at the moment. Almost every day, it appears, someone somewhere is willing to attack pension funds, especially, in my view, public sector schemes such as the one I chair.

The Greater Manchester Pension Fund is one of – if not – the biggest public sector pension scheme in the country with a balance sheet way above the £10bn mark. It is the pension scheme for the ten local authorities in Greater Manchester and a host of other kindred bodies, such as schools, colleges and charities.

One person who I am sure will agree with me when I say our scheme will be the envy of others up and down the country, is Shadow Pensions Minister Rachel Reeves who addressed the Fund’s AGM a couple of weeks ago. This is because Local Government pension schemes are self funded and do not rely on general taxation.

Rachel (who has a background in economics so should know a thing or two about pensions!) gave her views on the state of pensions in general and her own and the government’s approach to tackling pension issues moving forward; a talk that resonated with the packed audience.

The Fund’s aim is, and always will be, to provide secure pensions effectively administered at an affordable and stable cost to employers. There was recognition that we are certainly succeeding in this regard.

I hope Rachel’s visit will be the first of many where national figures in the pension world take time to come and see what we’re doing here in Tameside.

The invites have certainly gone out; I await the responses and will certainly post blog updates if and when they are taken up!

Get toasty this winter!

Monday, September 12th, 2011

I am sure I don’t need to remind anyone that we are in the middle of some challenging economic times and as such are all looking for ways to save money. I know this is certainly the case for me as a family man and as leader of Tameside Council.

One area where I think we can all make savings is in energy consumption. But as well as saving funds this can also make a massive difference to our carbon footprint (something I touched on in my last blog). To me it’s a no-brainer: saving money and helping the environment, how can that be a bad thing?

With this in mind I was pleased to have been invited to attend the Energy Saving Trust’s Get Me Toasty event at Ashton Market Hall on Monday at which Tameside residents were being offered free cavity wall and loft insulation to help them with this duel benefit of keeping warm (while helping the environment) and saving money.

Loft and cavity wall insulation can save almost £250 on heating bills in a year by preventing the heat escaping. Although not all houses can have the wall insulation residents can have a free, no obligation survey to see if their home is suitable; while the loft insulation is subject to a survey’s findings.

I hope as many of the borough’s residents as possible take advantage of the scheme and join me in finding new ways to make the necessary savings we are being forced to make while also doing our bit to look after the planet.

For more information or to arrange a survey, contact the Energy Saving Trust  on 0800 512 012 or visit www.getmetoasty.com.

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