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On 4 February Leeds Unison branch had an all-stewards meeting in response to our employers’ cuts proposals.

A Unison steward

We had also teamed up with the GMB and Unite for an activists’ rally to mount a serious campaign to back our national pay offer of £1 an hour extra on all grades with a view to involve our members in industrial action to win.

We were told that over 1,500 jobs have been lost over the last three years due to the Early Leavers’ Initiative and natural wastage, leaving fewer staff expected to do the same amount of work.

Many services, particularly in adult social care, have been either closed or transferred to the private and voluntary sector.

Approximately £150 million has been cut in the last three years and the council want to cut a further £82 million over the next three years with as much as £50 million being cut in the next financial year. £24 million is to be cut from Children’s Services alone. From 2010-11 to 2016-17 as much as 40% will be cut from the council’s budget.

Our service conditions are being attacked by cutting jobs, car allowances, pay and overtime, as well our previously agreed redundancy arrangements.

What was significant in both the stewards’ meeting and the national pay rally was that activists saw the need for action on both fronts. They are essentially the same battle.

Our employers’ shopping list of proposals cut too deep for us to accept, and the union leaders, who up to now, have worked with the Labour-led council, have at last said ‘enough is enough’!

To achieve a yes vote in any consultative ballot for industrial action we need a lively campaign against the cuts to inspire our members and prepare for strike action.

We must also build public support with lobbies and marches, calling on the council to set a budget to meet people’s needs.

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