Union fights council plan to cut 1,200 jobs

Southampton docks, where port health workers are on strike today
Southampton docks, where port health workers are on strike today. Photo: Thinkstock

By Alex Stevenson

Southampton city council has become the first big local authority to ask its workers to take a pay cut or lose their jobs, triggering a row with unions.

The Unite union, which has been staging a strike against the plans over the past six weeks, claimed at the weekend it had acquired a report from the council's management team detailing plans to cull over 25% of its 4,300 staff.

Its leadership budget showed that the council plans to set aside £15 million for the 2012/14 period to make around a quarter of the total council workers redundant.

In 2012 361 posts will go, rising to 725 in 2013. By 2014 1,224 workers will have been made redundant.

Ian Woodland, regional officer for Unite, said council leader Royston Smith was in charge of an administration which had "dishonoured" Southampton.

"Its half-truths and propaganda are now exposed," he said.

"It needs to stop doing George Osborne's bidding and start standing up for the workers and services of Southampton."

Mr Smith, who leads a new Conservative-controlled city hall, is seeking to cut £25 million from the budget.

He said no one would be sacked. "If they choose not to sign the contracts they will be choosing not to work at the city council," he told the BBC.

"There will be an efficiency drive," he added.

"Budgets are very tight, we have to reduce by 25% but this will protect over 400 people from losing their jobs.

Port health officers are joining the strike today. Hundreds of workers have participated in industrial action over the last six weeks.

On Wednesday a march will be held through the city to protest outside a meeting of the full council.


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