Council condemned over jobs ‘bullying’

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UNION officials have accused Doncaster Council of behaving like a “playground bully” by threatening to make almost 10,000 members of staff redundant and re-employ them on new contracts.

A notice was sent to the Unison trade union yesterday, saying that the local authority intends to terminate the contracts of 9,941 staff and re-employ them under different terms and conditions.

The move should save the cash-strapped council £7.5m in the 2012/13 financial year.

Unison regional organiser Robin Symonds said, “Negotiations between the council and the unions are not due to conclude until mid-November.

“So far we have met four times to discuss the council’s proposals to cut our members’ pay and terms and conditions.

“We believed our negotiations were being conducted in good faith with the aim of reaching agreement, so to receive the notice of dismissals at this early stage is something of a shock.

“This ‘agree or else’ ultimatum is a cynical move by the council and is not helpful to what is already a difficult process.”

Mr Symonds added that union members have already taken two days’ strike action and this new move is “likely to raise the temperature still further.”

He said: “We call upon Doncaster Council to rescind the dismissal notice in order to allow us to conclude our negotiations without a gun to our heads.”

Doncaster Council’s director of finance and corporate services, Simon Wiles, said the authority is conducting “regular and meaningful discussions” with the union over the proposed changes.

He said: “The stark reality is we need to make savings of up to £7.5m from changes to terms and conditions in order to balance our planned 2012/13 budget.

“We have put forward a range of options for consideration by the unions and we will continue to make every effort to drive forward negotiations with them in order to reach an agreement.

“Ultimately, if we are unable to achieve our preferred outcome of reaching a collective agreement, one option available to us to bring about these changes is to terminate and re-engage staff contracts of employment. However, this is not our preferred outcome.”