Protesters concerned that Essex could lose its entire 178-strong contingent of youth workers will be staging a demonstration at Chelmsford county hall on Thursday (31 October).
Unite, the country’s largest union which represents the majority of the youth workers, is calling for the Tory-controlled county council to rethink its ‘draconian’ policy that will hit young people facing employment, housing, and personal problems.
More than 100 demonstrators are expected to be outside county hall between noon and 1.00pm on Thursday.
Unite said that there are currently 178 youth workers employed by the county council – and presently there are two options on the table which will be discussed by councillors.
One option is that all the youth workers will lose their jobs and the services would be carried out by voluntary organisations. The alternative is that 172 youth workers lose their jobs, leaving just six youth workers for the whole of Essex.
Unite regional officer Carolyn Simpson said:
“We want to drive home the message to councillors that the blinkered and draconian options that they are contemplating will hit young people seeking advice on employment, accommodation and personal issues.
“The council is storing up social problems for the future – which will cost more to fix in the long-term – by adopting this knee-jerk and short-sighted stance.
“We want the people of Essex to put pressure on their county councillors to save this service which has demonstrated proven and positive results over the years for the county’s young people.”
The youth service budget originally stood at £12 million a year, but has now been slashed to £5.1 million and if either of the plans on the table are adopted a further £3 million would be axed from the budget, leaving the youth service scraping by on £2.1 million a year by 2014/2015.
Scheduled to attend the county hall rally are: Suzy Stride, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC) for Harlow and Chris Vince, Labour’s PPC for Chelmsford, as well as two Labour county councillors for Harlow, Karen Clempner and Mike Denvers.
For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.