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News round-up 3/4: Thousands of council officers 'gagged'

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Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government

 

Gagging clauses

Almost 5,000 council workers and civil servants have been “gagged at taxpayers’ expense” at a cost of up to £400,000 each, according to the Daily Telegraph. It says the use of “gagging orders” is “widespread” for departing employees in local government and Whitehall. Councils have signed 4,562 compromise agreements with former staff, most of which contain confidentiality clauses, the newspaper reports. It adds that in Whitehall, more than 200 civil servants and officials have signed compromise agreements in the past two years costing £14m.

 

General strike

The Financial Times reports that Unite, Britain’s largest trade union, is urging other unions to join forces to stage a 24-hour general strike in what is hoped to be an “explicitly political” attack against the government. The threat comes as Number 10 yesterday ruled out speculation that it was to freeze or even cut the minimum wage as it embarked on the largest contraction to date in the welfare state.

In a document seen by the Financial Times, Unite proposes industrial action, suggesting that such action would be desirable, as it would not only put pressure on the government to change course, but would also enhance the credibility of the labour movement.

 

Education

The teaching profession’s revolt against Michael Gove escalated yesterday as members of the National Union Teachers unanimously supported a motion of no confidence, the Daily Telegraph reports. The vote was the first time in the 143-year history of the union that such a step had been taken over a secretary of state.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, said Mr Gove had lost the confidence of most teachers following conflicts over forcing schools to become academies, scrapping annual incremental pay rises for teachers, increasing pension contributions, reforms to GCSEs and A-levels, tougher inspections and new national curriculum proposals.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports that hospital managers are being urged to identify unused wards and outbuildings which could be used to house free schools. The paper describes ministers’ “scramble” to find 256,000 new school places by the 2014 school year.

 

 

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