Around 500 city council workers descended on the civic centre today, in protest against job losses and pay cuts.
The Tory led council is planning to dismiss the majority of its workforce, and then rehire them on worse terms after unions voted to reject a proposed 5.4% pay cut for all staff earning over £17500.
Unions feel this move is illegal, as the council has not consulted properly with the staff it is dismissing. They are preparing legal action which could cost the council £10 million in compensation.
The protest march reached the civic centre at around 1 o’clock, with workers chanting “No ifs, no buts, stuff your Tory cuts.” Speakers then addressed the crowd, promising to fight the pay cuts and attempt to unseat Tory councillors in the next round of local elections.
Union members will be ballotted for strike action, set to take place in May, if the council pushes ahead with the plans. Unions are planning the “most serious industrial action” ever seen in the city in response to the plans.
Council workers were given until last Friday to tell the council whether or not they were accepting the pay cut. Notices will then be served to those who refused on April 7th, letting them know they could be out of a job by June.
The council is also set to dismiss 250 of its staff and make significant cuts to local services in order to plug a £25 million hole in its budget.
Caroline Stokes of Unison told the Wessex Scene, “The lowest paid members of staff can’t afford these paycuts. They are illegal, and we will be taking action against the council. This is the largest industrial action I’ve ever seen, and I don’t think it will go away because people are very, very angry about this.”