Over 1,000 Southampton City Council workers to strike

MORE than 1,000 council workers in Southampton will tomorrow take part in the largest strike yet over pay cuts after council chiefs lifted a threat of dismissal.

Up to 400 social care workers in the Unison union will be joined by all 700 members of Unite, including bin men, for a mass walkout and rally in Guildhall Square in protest at the pay cuts brought in under threat of dismissal in July.

Workers were preparing to defy a warning from council leader Royston Smith that staff could be sacked for taking industrial action outside a legally protected 12-week period of industrial action that brought a summer of crippling strikes. But unions have said they have been assured by the council’s chief executive they will not be dismissed for walking out tomorrow.

Those on strike will include social workers, occupational therapists, care managers, residential childcare workers, social care assistants and business support staff in both children’s and adult social services.

And they will meet at the Sir James Matthews Building to consider further walkouts in a campaign to restore pay cuts of between two and 5.5 per cent forced on thousands of staff earning over £17,500. The council insists the pay cuts will protect 400 jobs as it seeks to make savings of £75m over four years. Staff also face a two-year pay freeze.

However, in-demand child social workers are getting an extra £1,400 to stop them moving to better paid jobs with other councils.

Unison branch secretary Mike Tucker said: “After three months of enforced pay cuts, Unison members remain determined to continue the fight for the reductions to be reversed.

“Unison members know how much their pay has been reduced while councillors voted to reject proposals to reduce their own allowances. The dispute will continue until there is a fair negotiated settlement.”

Deputy council leader Jeremy Moulton said: “This action serves no purpose at all and will only damage council services to our customers.

Our immediate concern is that the most vulnerable in the city are looked after.”

Up to 2,400 union members at Southampton City Council are continuing working to rule in the ongoing industrial action causing widespread disruptions to council services. Talks between council and union leaders resumed three weeks ago to try to end the dispute. A further meeting is planned for next Wednesday.