'Now is the time to invest – not sack hundreds more workers': Unions react to potential job losses at Kirklees Council

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Unions and political groups across Kirklees have been reacting to the news that hundreds of redundancies will be made by Kirklees Council.

Last week, it was revealed that up to 750 roles at Kirklees Council are at risk of redundancy. This comes as the council is in financial dire straits, needing to make a £47m saving so it has a balanced budget at the end of the year.

The council is yet to state which departments will be affected by the job cuts or the time frame over which they will take place.

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Kirklees Council reportedly notified Kirklees UNISON of its financial situation, which has worsened as a consequence of the cost of living crisis. Council budgets were already under severe pressure due to central government cuts and now, the local authority is implementing more drastic measures to save some cash.

The council needs to make a £47m saving so it has a balanced budget at the end of the yearThe council needs to make a £47m saving so it has a balanced budget at the end of the year
The council needs to make a £47m saving so it has a balanced budget at the end of the year

UNISON Kirklees Branch secretary Mick Donoghue said: “Our members, and the communities they serve in Kirklees, have faced a decade of austerity and public services are already at breaking point largely due to hundreds of jobs already being made redundant.

"Local services are cut to the bone and our members are stretched to breaking point.

“Now is the time for the government and Kirklees Council to invest in its workforce – not sack hundreds more workers.

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"If these redundancies go ahead, then the future of vital services that residents rely on is questionable.

"Our members are understandably telling us that enough is enough – and we will do all we can to prevent these job losses.

“Kirklees UNISON has a long standing policy that we will ballot our members for industrial action if Kirklees council issues a compulsory redundancy notice.

"We have requested urgent talks with the council to seek to avoid the need to ballot members.”

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The Lib Dem group said: “Residents across Kirklees, particularly Kirklees staff and their families, will be understandably worried by the news of upcoming talks about redundancies.

"We know staff have been working very hard to bring change to the way council works and trying to improve services and efficiencies. Unfortunately they are now facing problems outside their control.

“Authorities like Kirklees have faced relentless cuts under this government and where the Conservatives haven’t cut, they have dithered.

“The cost of living crisis has brought many families under pressure, now it is fundamentally weakening the organisations that have acted as lifelines for many people either by threatening livelihoods or the services they provide.

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“The scale of job losses that we’re looking at are huge and there is no guarantee that even this drastic move will be enough to get cabinet out of the financial hole it’s in.

“The number one priority during the process must be to ensure that services are able to protect the most vulnerable and carry out core duties.

"The Labour cabinet failed to steer us clear of these job cuts but they must now make sure that whatever remains can still deliver for all our communities.

“It looks like the conversation with employees has started relatively early and that support is being offered. Communication and care are vital in this process, our workforce and residents deserve no less.”

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Leader of the Conservative group, Coun David Hall, said: “Worldwide events have forced up inflation, and the council has to respond to the same cost of living challenge as the rest of us.

"In addition, the council is facing increasing demand for services to our most vulnerable residents.

“But our view has not changed over the years: the council must concentrate all its effort on delivering its core services more efficiently and effectively. This is even more necessary now.

“Any compulsory redundancy is to be regretted, however, Conservative councillors will be scrutinising this process most carefully to ensure that affected employees are treated with care and that core services are protected.”

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