As reported, Leeds Unison Local Government members have opposed the Council’s latest offer by an overwhelming 85% with only 14.5 voting to accept out of a return of 31.3%.
A Leeds UNISON steward
Having waited to see how the employer would implement the offer, Leeds City Council have provided a 90 day notice of ‘variation to your employment contract’ regarding Managing Workforce Change and Pay Protection arrangements, which will take effect from 1st November
The changes to the Managing Workforce Change and Pay Protection arrangements to that policy is effectively a deterioration of your contract which Unison has not agreed to and effectively means a reduction in the time the employer is obliged to find you work during redeployment and a reduction in pay protection if you are found a lower grade job.
The Council intends to reduce the redeployment time limits because of the budget restrictions it has, and as nearly 50% of its expenditure is employees’ wages, up to and possibly over 3,000 jobs are intended to go by 2014. If the take up of the Early Leavers Initiative (ELI) scheme is not enough there may be a situation where there will be more staff in redeployment than there are posts to find.
Although members in GMB, Unite and Ucatt unions voted to accept the offer, Leeds Unison should now lead by example and ballot its members for strike action now. With a majority of members who balloted rejecting the offer the Unison can legally conduct a strike ballot
However, it is likely that Unison nationally will attempt to block it arguing that it has to approve any industrial action, and under its rules we have to conduct an indicative ballot before a strike ballot. This is an attack on democracy and can be used to dampen down any mood for action.
Many members have already experienced a deterioration of the quality of service; greater workloads, less staff to do the work, fewer working harder, and that’s just through the ELI.
Already there has been £90m worth of cuts to service budgets so that we offer less to service users and tougher access to potential service users. Sadly there have been some services that have been cut. For many of us these cuts are creeping in on the quiet. The Council wants its employees to formally accept what it is already doing.
Leeds Unison must name the date for a lobby of the Council, a key provision of the motion adopted at the branch AGM in case the council decided to proceed with its plans.
Additionally, Leeds Unison should call a Saturday demonstration, built with support from the wider anti-cuts movement to galvanise the opposition to the Labour-led Leeds City Council programme of cuts.
A success of the campaign so far against the cuts is the way in which students, other workers and especially service users were drawn into the battle to defend services. This must be continued and raised onto a higher level to defeat these savage cuts.