May 20, 2011 2.55 pm This story is over 152 months old

Industrial action starts at County Council

Muted protests: Unison members across all County Council departments will work to rule.

Unison members gathered at Lincolnshire County Council’s Newland offices on May 20, ahead of the council’s Annual General Meeting, to start fresh industrial action.

Hundreds of jobs are set to go at the council, as the authority attempts to save £57 million this year alone in the face of government austerity measures, which are costing it a total of £125 million.

The union recently voted for industrial action against the council. Its members will “work to rule” from May 20, meaning they’ll stop working unpaid overtime, stop taking on additional responsibilities on top of what they’re paid for, and insist on proper rest breaks.

Over 800 members who work in health and social care at the council were already working to rule.

Now Unison’s members across all council departments will join them.

John Sharman, Unison Branch Secretary for the East Midlands, told The Lincolnite: “It’s the annual meeting of the County Council today, so it’s a particularly symbolic day we have chosen to start industrial action.

“The message to the County Council and to the people of Lincolnshire, and to the coalition government, is that the cuts to public services are not acceptable.

“We don’t believe that it is right that our members and the communities they provide services to should pay the price for the greed and the incompetence of the banks and financial institutions.”

David O’Connor, LCC’s Executive Director of Performance and Governance, had said previously: “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.”

Sharman says their alternative is “to spread the reduction in staffing budgets over the four year budget cycle and not to make it all in the first year, at the start of the cycle, which is what the council is going to do.”

He added: “We recognise that it’s not Lincolnshire County Council’s decision to axe the funding that it receives from central government, but we’d have hoped that they’d have made a better protest.”

Janet Hutchinson, who works for Children’s Services at the council, said: “We’re here because we want to make it known still that there’s opposition to the cuts. We don’t yet think the job losses are clear to the public.

“We’re very concerned that the implications of the cuts have not hit individuals really, either because of job losses or loss of services.”

She said the council seems “adamant that this is the way they feel it needs to be done” and that she is not optimistic of a compromise.