The Birmingham Mail misled the public when it reported on bin man wages this week after Neil Elkes was provided with information by the Council rather than just asking a few lads on the picket lines, i.e., basic journalism. Perhaps Neil was following a legitimate line of enquiry, or maybe he’s pushing Council propaganda, perhaps the NUJ can find out. The result is that the public if not informed, might be mistaken for thinking that the bin men are on strike for more money – when they’re not. What they are opposing is a £4-6,000 pay cut, the loss of a rest day each week and the increase in workload of 1300 more households. Furthermore, constantly referring to the city council’s promise of jobs and claiming that there are therefore no redundancies hides the truth that a promise of a job isn’t a job. If Mr Elkes was told his career as a journalist was at an end but the Mail “promised” to give him the same money cleaning toilets would Mr Elkes not make a fuss and claim he was being made redundant?
Mr Elkes pens the local government stories for the Birmingham Mail and is at risk of going native. When you hang around with people who have power, even limited power like the local Councillors and bureaucrats you can end up thinking that you’re part of the club, one of the important people. A journeyman reporter on a local newspaper cannot merely regurgitate whatever is passed to them by these worthy Councillors who have a very tenous democratic mandate, it is incumbent upon a journalist to check the facts and report from the front line. After all, local journalists are themselves quite poorly paid and contrary to what they might think after attending a council bash and being given a few free sandwiches, the interests of journalists are one and the same with workers everywhere.
So, let’s ask Neil, the next time he reports on the wages of bin men, to put them into a little context and let us know who else gets what at the Council. Here’s a little list of starting salaries at Birmingham City Council to get the ball rolling:
Chief Executive £180,000
Assistant Chief Exec £80,000
Corporate Strategy Head of Service £65,000
Communications Director £75,000
Change and Support Services Strategic Director £135,000
Strategic Policy Head of Service £60,000
Performance Head of Service £50,000
Finance and Legal Strategic Director £135,000
Corporate Resource and Economy Director £85,000
Financial Services Ass Dir £85,000
Head of City Finance £65,000
Finance Manager £50,000
Legal and Democratic Services Director £100,000
Senior Solicitor £50,000
Human Resources Senior Practitioner £50,000
Customer Services Head of Service £55,000
Customer Services Asst Director £75,000 and £100,000
Corporate Strategy Asst Dir £90,000
Who do you think is value for money? Bin men or these over paid lackey’s?
If you want to support the bin men, help us distribute the Birmingham Worker and leaflets to the public. Get in touch ASAP and help win this dispute: