Unite members working for Oxfordshire County Council will be balloted for strike action over the council’s plans to shut all of its 44 children centres and seven early intervention (EIS) hubs, including in the prime minister’s Witney constituency.
Unite, the country’s biggest union, which represents staff in the EIS hubs will begin balloting members from Monday 18 January over the plans which put 420 highly skilled jobs are at risk. The ballot closes on 5 February.
Vital support services for children, young people and their parents, from stay and play sessions to open access youth sessions, are at risk of vanishing altogether after the council announced plans to slash £8 million from the children’s services, as part of a further £50 million cut to frontline services. The council had already announced cuts of £292 million from 2010-2018.
Unite has accused David Cameron of gross hypocrisy as the full horror of his government’s policies leave local authorities, including his own, struggling to maintain even basic services in the face of a 40 per cent budget cut since 2010.
Councillors meet on 16 February 2016 to vote on the budget proposals.
Unite regional officer Chris Gray said: “We are urging councillors to find an alternative solution to these damaging cuts and to vote against the proposals at the budget meeting on 16 February. The future of Oxfordshire’s children’s early intervention service is in their hands.
“David Cameron’s hypocrisy is mindboggling. He gets himself embroiled in a row with the Conservative leader of the council after writing to complain about the impact of the ‘counter-productive’ cuts to frontline services in his own constituency. Completely oblivious to the fact that they are a direct result of his government’s own policies.
“He then announces plans for state-backed parenting classes to teach parents how to raise their children properly, when the children’s centres that provide this kind of support are facing the axe in his own constituency.
“While we welcome Ian Hudspeth, leader of the council, pointing out to Mr Cameron that his government’s 40 per cent cut to local authority funding since 2010 is ‘no slight fall’, this cannot be an excuse for councillors to sit on their hands and ignore the pleas of those they represent. They would do well to remember that cuts to children’s early intervention services are the falsest of false economies. Our members protect children and young people from more costly interventions like social services, mental health services and prison.”
For further information please contact Unite campaigns officer Chantal Chegrinec on 07774 146 777
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Notes to editors
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey