Southampton City Council staff have been told that up to 8 per cent of the directly employed workforce will be redundant. Some services – the Youth Service, “Our House” children’s home and Archaeology – are facing complete closure. Others, such as Parks, Street Sweeping, Libraries, Waste Services, Children’s Services, face considerable losses.
The threat result from the government’s reduction in funding of £23 million for the year 2013/14, part of the “deficit reduction policy” aimed at reducing the number of people working in the public sector.
Unite’s convenor says the situation has been made much worse by the previous Tory council. It spent £100 million on capital projects and committed the council to funding the Arts Complex as well as Sea City Museum, with the interest paid out of the annual budget. It froze Council Tax, reducing the ability to raise revenue, and spent the council’s reserves in the runup to the 2012 elections. The convenor added: “We have already had a three-year pay freeze, a two-year increment freeze and two years of a pay cut, which will not be fully restored for everybody until 2015. We have paid enough for a crisis we did not cause.”
Unite SCC branch also opposes the Labour council administration’s proposal to refuse to set a budget, which would lead to their removal from office and the installation of government-appointed commissioners, who would implement worse cuts. Unite and Unison will be organising a public protest on the job cuts and will also consider balloting members for a one-day strike, to coincide with the budget-setting council meeting. ■