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Solihull UNISON Cuts Bulletin No 1 March 2011

Inside This Issue 1

£15m budget cut

2

Undermining terms and

conditions 2

Pay freeze

3

Lean cuts

3

UNISON’s response

4

No Cuts, No Cover resolution

£15m budget cut Solihull Council met on 1st March 2011 and set the budget of £148m for 2011-12, cutting the budget by £15m. This is over 10% of the budget and follows a cut of 14.3% in the Government’s grant to the Council. The cuts are a direct consequence of the policies of the Con-Dem Government to reduce public spending. While the Council leadership ruled out a programme of compulsory redundancies for 2011-12 it has not ruled out the possibility of some compulsory redundancies ‘as a last resort’. At the Budget setting Council Cllr.Hedley, Leader of the Council, warned ‘I cannot guarantee that there will not be job loses.’ UNISON is aware there will also be additional post deletions this year, while there is no post holder there remain consequences for services and remaining workers through the loss of these jobs. The Council already knows its Grant settlement for 2012-13 and is expecting to make further cuts of £11.8m in March 2012. Cuts are expected in following years with an overall cut of 25% being made from the Council’s budget by 2013-14. The use of compulsory redundancies to achieve cuts has not so far been ruled out for future years.

Pressures for the year ahead ‘I cannot guarantee that there will not be job loses.’

UNISON’s challenge has been to go through a vast amount of information to understand what these cuts mean for us as workers and for the from the President services we provide. The details of many of the cuts and savings proposals are still being worked out. This is bulletin is our first attempt at explaining how these cuts will affect the workforce as whole and specific services.


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CUTS BULLETIN NO 1 .

‘Essential

car drivers will be £500 worse off under the new scheme.’

Undermining local terms and conditions When the Council voted on the budget they imposed a cut of £347k from the mileage budget through the imposition of the 40p per mile rate upon all car drivers and the abolition of the banded lump-sum scheme for essential car drivers. With the rapid increase in petrol prices this measure will hit essential car drivers very hard, we estimate that they will on average loss £500 per year. Senior Management ended negotiations by e-mail are in dispute with our Employer. UNISON has recently discovered that there is to be an attempt to toughen the criteria for the award of increments and it is proposed that our targets should be tied to achieving efficiency savings. Our concern that this is an attempt cut the £1m bill for the award of increments by stealth. In the second of the pay freeze the award annual increments having become even more important for workers at a time of rising inflation.

Get on the bus! Coaches leave Keepers Lodge at 7.45pm and Union Road at 8.15am on Saturday 26th March Free to UNISON members and family members. Phone 704 6048 or e-mail unison@solihull.gov.uk to book your seat

Pay freeze and Pension contributions increase The other big cut affecting us all is the announcement of a second year of the pay freeze for 2011-12 by Local Government employers for all Council workers. The Council will pocket a further £126k at our expense. This at a time increasing inflation, the RPI stands at 5.1% and CPI at 4%, which will in all likelihood lead to an increase in interest rates later in 2011. The Hutton Commission on public sector pensions will report in the spring and will recommend significant increase in our pension’s contributions. We are directly paying for the cuts by systematic reductions in our real incomes.

Doing more with less! UNISON believes that all workers on the frontline will have to work harder by doing ‘more with less’. We are aware that most Managers have had significant increase in workloads with increasing spans of management. UNISON has raised particular concerns that some highly pressured frontline services such as Children’s Social Work services are still having their budget cut by £600k although there has been a 23% increase in workload in recent years with no corresponding increase in staffing. We are concerned that this has potentially serious consequences for the health and safety of staff, and in particular increased incidence of work related stress. This situation is likely to continue and intensify in the years ahead.


CUTS BULLETIN 1

Lean cuts UNISON raised concerns about Lean with the Leaders of the main Political Groups on the Council. We wrote: The Lean Team and Lean Review process is being used to drive through significant savings this coming year. There need to be effective checks to the lean review process. UNISON remains concerned that some identified lean savings are not viable and have been hung round the neck of a particular service and will have to be achieved one way or another. We are concerned that the Lean reviews might lead to the possible loss of posts in future and that the Lean Team is driven to achieving it’s own savings targets through lean reviewing other services.

PAGE 3 Contact us: Solihull UNISON unison@solihull.gov.uk and by phone on 704 6048 Find us on the web www.solihullunison.co.uk and find our Solihull UNISON Facebook group

Targeted cuts in services Some services have been targeted with a disproportionate level of cut. The service supporting unaccompanied asylum seeking children is to be cut by 15% following a cut in funding from the United Kingdom Borders Agency. The service will hit by the largest single cut of £1.2m. Higher caseloads for workers and a reduced and ‘second tier’ service to care leavers from this group are being proposed. Cuts and savings of 15% have also been identified for the Youth service.

Solihull UNISON’s response: UNISON with the GMB wrote to Cabinet members before the Cabinet Meeting in February to detail our concerns about specific cuts and savings for jobs and services. Immediately before the March Council meeting followed this up with a letter to the leaders of the main Political Groups making demands on how they should protect frontline services. (Go to our website to see our written responses www.solihullunison.co.uk)

Lean cuts

UNISON’s approach to the cuts is twofold. We are committed to publicly campaigning to explain the impact and social costs of the cuts. We are asking members to join us in London on 26th March to show our opposition to the Con-Dem Government’s cuts. Within the Council our priority is to defend our terms and conditions of our members and to protect our working condition At our Annual General meeting we passed a resolution on No Cuts, No Cover. This calls for members to take workplace based action to highlight the workload and to protect their working conditions. UNISON is a membership led union, if we are to protect our working conditions you need to take action. We need you to take too simple steps. Can you organise a meeting in your workplace with other UNISON members to talk about the cuts and what it means for your service and your work. Secondly if you haven’t UNISON Workplace rep elect one. By getting organised workplace by workplace we can make a difference.


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CUTS BULLETIN NO 1

Motion on ‘No Cuts No Cover’ This AGM of Solihull Local Government Branch notes: 1.

2. 3.

4. 5.

Working people in this country and across the world are paying the price of bailing out the Banks. The public cost of intervening in the global financial crisis is equivalent to the cost of $1400 for every person in the world. (source: Robert Peston, Business Correspondent of the BBC) In the United Kingdom ‘As of June 2009 the cost to the public of bailing out the bankers: £850 Billion.’ (source: Andrew Grice, The Independent, 4th December 2009) That large scale cuts in public spending will probably push the economy back into recession pushing up unemployment and reducing the tax base to bring down the deficit. There is no evidence that by cutting public spending and public sector jobs that this will spur private sector growth and employment. That public spending cuts are an attack on the social wage and will have a disproportionate impact upon women and children. The cuts are inherently unfair. The Con-Dem Government is using the deficit as a political opportunity to attack the public provision of services; it is proposing a further a wave of privatisation.

This AGM further notes The cut of over 14.3% of the Government’s grant to Solihull Council for 2011-12. This is the first of three years of cuts. The decision of Solihull MBC not to introduce a programme of compulsory redundancies as a method of managing the Councils’ budget this year. The cuts to the Council’s budget will result in some redundancies. 8. The budget proposals include the deletion of a significant number of posts. This follows a reduction in the staffing establishments in some Departments in previous years. 9. Management will pressurise remaining workers to cover the work for deleted posts and frozen posts. 10. In many workplaces there will be more work with fewer people and resources to do that work. This has implications for our health and safety as we work harder and more intensely. This situation is likely to continue and intensify in the years ahead 6. 7.

This AGM resolves that the Branch should: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Publically campaign against cuts in Council and all public services including supporting the TUC March for the th Alternative on 26 March 2011. To effectively publicise the effects of cuts in Council services to the wider public of Solihull. To develop campaigns to defend specific Council services under threat making links with service users and people in the community. That this Branch develop a strategy of ‘No Cuts, No Cover’ to enable workers to defend their working conditions. This strategy would involve the following: a) To monitor the impact of job freezes and post deletions in workplaces. b) To hold workplace meetings with members concerned about workloads and the impact of lost and frozen posts. c) To support the members to take action to highlight the workload and to protect their working conditions. d) To publicise the ‘No Cuts, No Cover’ campaign amongst the wider membership and to challenge the lie that ‘we are all in this together’. e) To ensure ‘No Cuts No Cover’ as a standing item on the agenda of all Branch meetings.


Cuts bulletin No 1