Hundreds of Croydon Council workers, many of whom helped to provide frontline services to the borough’s residents during the coronavirus lockdown, are expected to gather outside the Town Hall in Queen’s Garden’s at lunchtime today to protest at the threat to axe their jobs as their bosses seek to fix a £62million hole in their budgets.
The workers are members of the Unison, Unite and GMB unions, who have been running a petition that seeks to delay or prolong the formal redundancy consultation process, which is due to end this week.
But as yet, the unions’ petition has not been signed by Tony Newman, the leader of the Labour-controlled council, nor a single one of his 40 Labour councillors. The names of the borough’s two Labour MPs, Sarah Jones and Steve Reed OBE, are also conspicuous by their absence from the petition.
Union officials are privately seething at the lack of support for their members from the Labour councillors, some of whom they believe have responsibility for the cash-strapped council’s financial problems.
In a letter from the unions to Newman last week, they said, “Staff should be praised and rewarded, not hit with losing their jobs and livelihoods. It is of profound concern to our members and to your constituents that a Labour-led council is embarking upon cuts of this scale in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.”
As first reported by Inside Croydon, council chief exec Jo Negrini (salary: £220,000 per year) is seeking to make 15 per cent cuts across her debt-ridden council, which could amount to up to 500 posts. Some union officials estimate that in some departments, as many as 1-in-4 jobs could be under threat.
The statutory 45-day consultation is due to expire on Friday.
The petition (click here to sign it) calls on “… Croydon Council, as a matter of urgency, to extend its consultation on mass redundancies in order to preserve jobs and protect frontline services, during the coronavirus health and economic crisis”.
The petitioners state, “Around 450 jobs are at risk at the council, meaning 15 per cent could be cut. In some departments, this figure could be as high as 25 per cent…
“Many council employees are raising significant concerns that staff who remain will be left with unmanageable workloads and that this will inevitably result in much poorer frontline services for residents in Croydon.”
While the union members wait for any support from elected Labour councillors, or even Tory councillors, one local politician, the Green Party’s Peter Underwood, himself a member of Unison, has given his full backing to their campaign.
Underwood, a Green Party candidate in next May’s London Assembly elections, said today, “I support to my fellow Unison members and all staff at Croydon Council, because redundancies should always be a last resort.
“Elected politicians in Croydon should be shouting loudly that central government needs to reverse their funding cuts so that we can keep public services running, but we hear nothing.
“Senior managers at the council need to be looking at cuts to their own salaries in order to save other people’s jobs – the complete lack of movement on this shows a disturbing lack of regard for the welfare of others.
“The coronavirus crisis has shown how vital these key workers are. We cannot afford to lose them.”
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