Kirklees Unison has launched a formal industrial action ballot, to begin strike action in September to challenge the council’s headlong rush into some of the most swingeing cuts in living memory.
Last year, the council promised to cut £250-£400 million from the budget, with 2,000 job losses. It has tried to lure workers from their jobs with offers of redundancy and early retirement, but so far only a few hundred workers have taken up the ‘offer’. Now the council, with a minority Labour leadership, it is setting out to tear up just about every local agreement in the book.
So far it has:
- Drawn up a hit-list of all temporary and casual staff to be targeted for redundancy.
- Issued a notice of compulsory redundancy for 150 unnamed staff.
- Planned to axe half of all admin staff, about 350 workers.
- Listed workers aged 64 plus who will be forced to leave work on their 65th birthday.
- Reduced the redundancy pay for all those who leave.
- Unsuccessfully tried to reduce the pension entitlement for all those who leave.
- Introduced a new formula for calculating sickness absence which will be used to get rid of those who have ‘too much’ time off sick.
The local Unison branch is organising workplace meetings across the borough to encourage a big ‘yes’ vote and a big turnout. Inevitably there are questions about the chances of pushing the council back and whether members can afford to strike. However there is a growing realisation that we have no choice.
The union is also organising weekly campaigning stalls to rally the public behind the action and has called a demonstration on 11 September in Huddersfield as a focal point.
Please send messages of support to: Kirklees Unison, 20 Queen Street, Huddersfield, HD1 2SP.
From The Socialist