British Waterways to axe 180 jobs

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Indy Politics

The organisation in charge of Britain's canals and rivers is to lay off 180 workers after the Government slashed its budget, it was reported today.

British Waterways has launched an attack on the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), warning that some waterways could close after it was forced to make major cuts.

The BBC reported that British Waterways has blamed Defra's expensive mismanagement of farm subsidies after its budget was cut by 15 per cent.

Defra told the corporation it has overspent by £200 million.

Other bodies such as the Environment Agency and Natural England are also expected to have their budgets squeezed.

A spokesman for trade union Unison, which represents many British Waterways staff, told the BBC: "Unison believes it's an absolute disgrace that 180 hard-working, loyal members of staff at British Waterways face the prospect of losing their job due to incompetence at Defra.

"Job cuts should be a last and not the first resort."

Unison said it would fight the planned job losses, adding that it was calling an emergency meeting to draw up plans to combat the cuts.

A spokesman said: "We will fight these job cuts with every means at our disposal and we have arranged an emergency meeting of stewards to draw up plans."

Unison said it was "disgraceful" that jobs were being threatened because of a cut in a grant from the Government to British Waterways.

The union called for talks to consider alternative options before workers were made redundant.

The union said it had been given an assurance in the summer that there would be no knee-jerk reaction to funding cuts.