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Unite warns of strike action over council cuts

Unite warns of strike action over council cuts

05 November 2013

Unite, the country’s biggest union, warns that Oxfordshire county council faces strike action by Early Intervention Service (EIS) staff overs its plans to axe 700 jobs and slash services for Oxfordshire’s most vulnerable children, young people and families.

Unite’s members working in Oxfordshire CC’s EIS will begin a consultative ballot for industrial action following the council’s shock announcement to shut four out of the county’s seven early intervention hubs, six satellite hubs and 37 children centres, two years after they were ushered in to improve targeted care to Oxfordshire’s most vulnerable people.

The council’s cost cutting plans could lead to 700 job losses – a massive 38 per cent cut to the workforce and hit the county’s universal and targeted support service hard, says Unite

Unite is urging the council to reconsider its plans as a matter of urgency and warns that industrial action is on the cards, if it fails to rethink its proposals.

David Ricketts Unite branch secretary said that: "Members are very angry and frustrated that having only just set up the Early Intervention Services in September 2011, it is about to be dismantled.

“Hundreds of families and young people face losing vital support from a highly skilled and dedicated workforce in another cost slashing exercise.”

“The people of Oxfordshire need to take a stand against this attack on its children and young people.  It can’t be right that the county’s most vulnerable people and families are once again bearing the brunt of council cuts.”
 
Unite Regional Officer Chris Gray said: “We are still at the proposal stage, but  we need to send a clear message to the council that the cuts in services and the impact this will have on our members and the wider community is not acceptable.

“It is very interesting that on one hand, Witney MP David Cameron supports children services, but on the other hand his government forces councils to consider such cuts. Our members have been very clear that they want to be balloted for industrial action. In the meantime we hope the council will reconsider and we will continue to lobby to this end.”

In 2011, the council closed many of its youth clubs and cut specialist services to introduce what it described as a ‘more progressive, indicative and cost effective way of delivering front line services’. Two years later over half of these new EIS hubs face the axe.

ENDS

For further information contact Chantal Chegrinec, Unite communications officer, on 07774 146 777

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
Notes for editors
 
The majority of UNITE members work within the EIS seven Hubs and six satellites. The authority has proposed that it will only provide services that are required by law (statutory), regulation and policy.
 
The total proposed budget cut to the Children Education Family (CEF) is £22.2 million. Unite estimates this could mean around 700 job losses from a total workforce of around 1800 which is a 38 per cent reduction of staff.