25,000 council workers shocked to learn jobs at risk
The public sector is a huge employer of women, and a significant proportion of the 25,000 workers employed by Birmingham City Council who were said to be in shock today after their jobs were put at risk, will be female.
Employees received letters this morning warning savage spending cuts could result in the loss of their jobs. Unions are organising mass meetings to decide on their response to what they refer to as a ‘crisis’. Workers have been told that unless they accept a new contract, they will be dismissed and re-employed on poorer conditions.
The Independent reports today that the council has confirmed that warning notices had been sent to 25,000 staff but said no figure for any job cuts had been decided. The Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council, Stephen Hughes, estimates that the council will have to cut up to a third of its net spend in the coming three years – some £330 million. He said:
“The magnitude of this financial pressure is immense. The council needs to radically review its overheads and expenditure and, as part of this, there is a need to broaden the existing review of employee allowances and terms and conditions of employment which began earlier this year.
“We also have a duty to ensure that any payments that we make to employees are fair and meet the legal requirements of equal pay legislation.”
The need to make sure that equal pay legislation is only the start. Flexible working arrangements and family friendly policies will also be put at risk if terms and conditions are to be revisited.
On a day when the TUC’s annual conference has backed joint industrial action to fight job cuts, it appears that once again the power of trades unions to protect workers’ rights will be put to the test.