KIRKLEES Council and a union have been criticised by a worker for “wasting money” in sending letters out to every worker and their members.
Adrian Lythgo, chief executive of Kirklees Council, spent around £3,000 writing to council workers last week to coincide with Unison’s correspondence about industrial action.
An anonymous council worker told the Examiner: “What troubles me is that it’s very expensive to write to thousands of council workers, especially when many Kirklees employees have an email address and not all are Unison members.
“It’s a dreadful waste of money to send all of these letters out on the pretence of saying thank you when it’s more about industrial action.
“I’d say the same about Unison, I’m a member and I think it’s waste of money sending letters out first class with a return for the ballot paper too.”
Mr Lythgo defended his decision, saying it was vital he communicated with all staff on an issue as important as voting.
He said the costs of a letter is worth it when the hidden costs of a strike can be so high.
He said: “Strikes are expensive: many of our staff cannot afford to strike.
“They are also costly for residents who have to cope with services being unavailable when they need them.
“In the long-term, strikes are hugely costly to Kirklees because they send out a message to potential investors that Kirklees is not open for business.”
Not all council staff have Kirklees email, including care assistants and refuse collectors.
It cost just under £3,000 to print, envelope and post a letter to 7,600 staff – less than 40p each.
Paul Holmes, of Unison, said they sent out 95% of their correspondence in bundles to the workplace, with the remaining sent to homes if there wasn’t a workplace, such as for school crossing patrols or home carers.
ADRIAN LYTHGO’S LETTER
MR LYTHGO'S letter starts by saying “thank you for your tremendous hard work during these difficult times”.
It adds that it’s not council workers’ “fault in having to deal with huge budget pressures local councils are facing”.
He talks of listening to council employees during the It's Time to Talk consultation before introducing the trade union strike.
The letter adds that they “always encourage people to be members” of trade unions and adds that he respects the hard work they do to protect jobs.
The letter adds: “It worries me that Unison is threatening to strike” and also that “If you are a Unison member I’d urge people to use their vote”.
The letter was sent to all council members, not just Unison members.