Union anger over council job cuts

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Indy Politics

Union leaders angrily attacked a further 1,500 council job losses and said it was a "disgrace" that workers heard the news on the radio.

Liverpool City Council said it could not rule out compulsory redundancies as it seeks to make £141 million of savings by 2013 because of Government spending cuts.

The GMB union said the job losses announced or threatened by local authorities is now over 145,000, with around 285 councils still to make decisions on how to deal with funding reductions.

General secretary Paul Kenny said: "These 1,500 job losses announced by Liverpool City Council bring the number in the GMB list to 145,842 in 212 councils and authorities.

"Local government minister Bob Neill will say that we are scaremongering and confusing job cuts with a reduction in posts in local government, but he knows that the UK Government is cutting hundreds of thousands of jobs in the public sector but they are trying to do it in the dark.

"Bob Neill should be in the Ministry of Propaganda rather than in the Department of Communities and Local Government."

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said: "These cuts are more bad news for people in Liverpool. It is a disgrace that the workforce had to find out about the sheer scale of the cuts over the radio.

"Liverpool cannot afford to lose so many jobs. The impact on the city and on the workforce will be devastating. How many more jobs have to go and people's lives ruined before this Government wakes up to the fact that there is an alternative, a better way and fairer way?

"We are seeking an urgent meeting with council leaders to try to protect these jobs and vital services."

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "The Government has delivered a tough but fair settlement ensuring the most vulnerable communities were protected. If councils share back office services, join forces to procure, cut out the non-jobs and root out the over-spends then they can protect frontline services.

"Driving down the nation's deficit is the Governments biggest priority but we have made sure that extra money, powers and funding freedoms are available to protect frontline services and the public from council tax rises offering real help to hard- working families and pensioners.

"The settlement is fair between different parts of the country - north and south, rural and urban, metropolitan and shire. In calculating the settlement ministers have ensured that formula grant funding per head is higher in those parts of the country with the highest level of need - such as Liverpool.

"In 2011/12, Liverpool will still receive a central Government grant of £796 per head, compared for example to £125 per head in Wokingham."

Unite said the North West of England was being hit by a "tidal wave" of local government staff cuts which could see at least 4,500 jobs going at Liverpool, Manchester, and Sefton councils.

The 1,500 job cuts in Liverpool and proposals at nearby Sefton Council to cull 1,000 jobs - due to be discussed at a council meeting tonight - were described by the union as "brutal" and would have a "devastating and lasting" impact on services.

Regional officer Debbie Brannan said: "We will be discussing with our members at both councils what action they wish to take to halt these job losses caused by the Government's decision to deeply cut local government funding.

"We will be liaising with other trade unions and community groups to build a coalition of resistance against these cuts to vital services.

"The council workforces did not create the financial mess we are now in, it was a rampant, greedy, out-of-control City. Why should a refuse collector in Liverpool pay for the mistakes of a bonus-bloated City banker?'

Unite national officer Peter Allenson said: "Unfortunately, what is happening in Liverpool and throughout the North West is being replicated across the country. The tally for job losses in local government will run into tens of thousands.

"As a result, vital public services that people have taken for granted for the past 50 years could either disappear or exist only in a skeletal form, and will probably be run by profiteering private companies."

Joe Anderson, the leader of Liverpool City Council, said Liverpool was being treated unfairly in the Local Government Settlement.

He said: "The reality is that we face £91 million in cuts next year.

"Staff are rightly anxious, upset and angry. I share the anger but those decisions have got to be made quite simply because we have got to manage a budget that is being reduced by 22%."