No strike over job cuts at County Council

Union members protest against budget and job cuts back in December 2010.

Update @ 1.55pm on May 11

Unison staff at Lincolnshire County Council have voted against a strike, but they will still take industrial action against their bosses.

Over 68% of members balloted voted to “work to rule”, with 35.3% voting to strike.

John Sharman, Unison Branch Secretary for Lincolnshire, said: “This result comes as no surprise. Unison members have made it clear throughout that they will not take the cuts lying down. The work to rule will be a massive managerial headache for the County Council.

“Our members will stop working unpaid overtime, stop taking on additional responsibilities above their paid duties, and insist on proper rest breaks. The council relies on the good will of its staff – this vote says that goodwill has been lost.”

Over 800 trade union members are currently working to rule in Adult Social Care in the county. Today’s result means that they will be joined by colleagues in all parts of the council, including Children’s Services where over 500 people are being made redundant.

Sharman continued: “The fact that over a third of voters do want to strike sends out a clear message for the future. Lincolnshire simply does not have a history of local strikes, so although we haven’t got a majority this time, a marker has been set down. Not only does the County Council face industrial action now, it has to expect an escalation in times to come.”

Original @ 11.02am on May 11

Lincolnshire County Council staff are being balloted over strike action, after redundancy talks between the council and unions broke down on Monday night.

Three unions, Unison, Unite and GMB, claim the council doesn’t have to cut all of the 818 jobs it’s planning to.

Discussions were facilitated by the dispute resolution service ACAS. The council did not uphold the unions’ dispute.

Unison is currently balloting its 2,500 members on strike action.

A joint statement from Unison secretaries John Sharman and David Forbes said: “Representatives of the three unions involved were disappointed that the council refused to budge from the position it has held since its budget proposals were first published.

“Even aside from the national argument that the government’s attack on public services is unjustified, the council has refused to alter its stance that its own staff must take a disproportionate hit at the start of the four-year budget cycle.

“The trade unions remain convinced that the scale of planned redundancies is not necessary, that information provided for the worst hit service areas is inadequate for meaningful consultation, and that detrimental changes to conditions of service, immediate and threatened, are unwarranted.

“We are sorry that the council has not taken this opportunity to avert industrial action. We are also confident that members will support that action, as the only course left to fight the cuts.”

David O’Connor, LCC’s Executive Director of Performance and Governance, said: “At a special meeting of the council’s Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) on Monday, the formal trade union dispute was not upheld.

“Talks will continue between the council and the trade unions however the dispute procedure itself has been concluded. Therefore the implementation of the council’s proposals for restructuring will now continue.

“There were no alternative proposals put forward by the trade unions during the dispute on how the council’s budget should be allocated, except that job losses should only occur through natural wastage.

“The council has managed vacancies over the past few years, and not filling posts has saved the authority around £6 million. However, we are currently in a situation where we need to save £57million this year.”

The Unison ballot closes on May 11. A result will be announced soon after. Unison’s Branch Council meets on May 12 to decide its next steps.

Photo: Peter Barton