Warning of strikes as Doncaster Council axes 700 more jobs

Strike action is looming at a troubled Yorkshire council after 700 job losses were announced on top of cuts that have already seen hundreds axed.

Doncaster Council said the redundancies over and above 700 already carried out were needed to find savings of £71m. But the move triggered a furious response from unions, who warned that the decision put them on a collision course with management.

Thousands more job losses are also expected at other councils across the Yorkshire region, raising the spectre of widespread industrial action in coming months.

Public sector union Unison is already halfway through a strike ballot at Doncaster Council, a result being expected next Wednesday. The union has 5,000 members at the authority.

Unison spokesman Robin Symonds said the vote had been called over the threat of compulsory redundancies after council chiefs refused to give the union details of its plans.

Mr Symonds said: “The announcement of 700 more job cuts will strengthen the resolve of our members to take action to protect their jobs and we are urging them to vote to do that.

“It seems the council is almost going out of it’s way to provoke a reaction and the way we see it, they are going much further than any other local authority in the region.”

Mr Symonds said the loss of more staff at Doncaster Council, which is currently in Government intervention over a series of failings, would “devastate” services in the town.

He added his members were also angry over plans to change their terms and conditions and that new redundancy terms on offer were half those given to staff who left in the last wave.

It is understood that if the strike ballot is passed, the first day of action in Doncaster will be June 30, when other unions also plan to walk out nationwide, crippling public services.

Doncaster Council’s head of finance, Simon Wiles, said it was hoped that some of the new 700 job cuts would be voluntary but admitted volunteers would be harder to find this time.

He said: “In the last round of 700 job losses, just 16 were compulsory redundancies, but this time the number of people who volunteer to go will be less.

“We are doing everything we can to protect frontline services, but we can’t guarantee anything. We are trying to reduce managers and supervisors to save money.”

He added: “Ideas are already under discussion about reducing staff terms and conditions, which will include reducing working hours and delaying when people get pay rises.

“We are also looking at paying people later in the month and reducing the amount of sick pay, holiday and other leave entitlements.

“It will be a way of spreading the pain not just among those people who will lose their jobs, but also among those who are left behind.

“A report is also being prepared for a meeting at the beginning of next month which will detail pay cuts for our senior officers.”

Yesterday Leeds Council said it was still looking to reduce its payroll by 1,600 after already losing 1,400 staff, while Bradford predicted 2,000 job losses by 2014.

Wakefield said it had still to cut 1,300 jobs after 400 were axed and council chiefs in the East Riding said 145 jobs had to go despite 135 already lost.

Hull Council has made 800 job cuts but no more are expected, Sheffield Council has shed 731 staff but could not give details of further redundancies.

A Leeds Council spokesman said by the end of March 2015, the authority aimed to cut a total of 3,000 posts. It had not made any compulsory redundancies and was hoping to avoid them.

Yorkshire Post

About elaineonyc

HR generalist who is passionate about the benefits of good HR practice. Experienced in delivering strategic and operational HR initiatives to clients in both public and private sectors. Specialises in working with SMEs.
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