No threat of strike action over CCC job losses

EMPLOYEES and unions at Cambridge-shire County Council have been told where to expect redundancies as part of the authority’s proposals for tough savings – including cutting 450 full and part-time jobs in the coming year – but there is no threat of industrial action.

Trade unions say 1,600 employees will be at risk of redundancy, with the equivalent of 240 full-time posts disappearing this year.

The proposed reduction in employees, which includes a continuing reduction in management costs at the authority, is needed to help deal with the national deficit and meet extra pressures on the council.

In December, the council announced that the significant drop in Government grant and other pressures meant it had to save about �160.6million over the next five years – including up to 450 people leaving the authority in the coming year and more in subsequent years.

The main Government grant has reduced by 14 per cent from last year. The savings are needed to meet the reductions the Government requires the council to make, a spokesman said.

“It is also needed to help pay for the rising costs and extra demands on essential services resulting from the county’s population growth and people living longer.

“Transforming services will be a major challenge as the council is already a lean organisation compared to many of its neighbours.”

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Trade unions accept the inevitability of job losses, though they are concerned about the impact of loss of services on communities, Unison branch officer Peter Gaskin told The Hunts Post.

Cuts are expected to business-related services such as the Greater Cambridge Partnership and Cambridgeshire Horizons, as well as libraries, student finance, the chief executive’s department, efforts to reduce teenage pregnancies and the graduate trainee programme.

Protest action is not on the agenda, “but we shall be campaigning with the community about the impact of the cuts,” Mr Gaskin said. “Services will either be delivered in a completely different way or not at all. Every post lost is a service lost to the community.

“Our immediate task is to get initial support in for our members,” he added.

So far, of the �50million cuts required in year one, the trade unions have identified only �5.7m from staffing reductions in the initial consultation. Further cuts are expected later in 2011/12 and in the following two years, amounting to �161m over three years.

The county has already entered into an agreement with neighbouring Northamptonshire County Council that could save millions of pounds through sharing back-office professional services, such as human resources, finance and legal services.

County Councillor John Reynolds said: “This is the toughest budget we have ever faced, and we are having to make very hard decisions. We are trying as hard as possible to retain as many front-line employees as we can while making the savings needed.”

INFORMATION: The full budget proposals will be discussed by councillors at cabinet on January 25 and a final decision made at full council meeting on February 15.