Strike action on the cards if Labour push ahead with compulsory redundancies
Public service workers facing job cuts and redundancy proposals will have their access to trade union advice and support curtailed, after it was revealed Labour-controlled Brighton & Hove Council plan to slash trade union facility time (where union reps can help members in pard time) in the upcoming budget.
Greens have hit back at Labour following an urgent call to action from Trade Union UNISON, raising the alarm over proposals that could see hundreds of job losses in local public services met with less support from trade unions.
With the council set to make around £33 million of cuts to its budget, Greens say now is not the time to hack away at the advocacy and legal support that many staff rely on to manage the impact of cuts and defend their rights.
The news also comes amid ongoing strike action by adult social care workers in the council, calling for equitable pay on par with their child social worker colleagues.
UNISON took on over 500 pieces of casework for council staff in the last year alone, with the union also commenting that a full industrial action ballot will be on the cards should any compulsory redundancies be announced in Labour’s budget.
The budget has yet to be published, with Labour rejecting a previous protocol that would have seen a draft of cuts proposals announced as early as December.
Instead, budget papers will be made public on Wednesday 31 January, providing community groups, trade unions and councillors with less than two weeks to campaign or push for alternative proposals, compared to almost three months to scrutinise the budget in previous years.
Green group convenor Steve Davis commented: “I’m gobsmacked that at the exact time our public services face the biggest cuts this city has seen in years, with hundreds of jobs set to be axed, that this is when Labour would seek to hack at workers’ rights by slashing Trade Union time and resources.
“So much for the party of workers’ rights. The party built off the back of collective action by workers are now seemingly abandoning their principles exactly when people need trade union help the most.
“It’s telling that in previous years that this exact proposal was one routinely put forward by the local Conservative group – it used to be Labour and Greens jointly defending trade unions from attack. Now, this Labour group are taking a leaf straight out of the Tory playbook.
“This shock announcement also comes when we’ve heard nothing from Labour about how they plan to resolve the first ever adult social care worker strike in the council’s history and when staff at schools Labour are closing have mobilised in defence of their jobs.
“We need to know they’re engaging with people whose jobs are at risk, not hacking away at support for people on low pay and who face redundancy. We’re appalled and urge Labour to immediately review this proposal and defend our public services from attack.”