By Julie Cordier
Council workers will be urged by unions to vote against Southampton City Council's newest proposal over pay cuts next week. This move follows the Tory-led council's decision to cut over 200 jobs among council workers. Southampton City Council announced last week that they came to an agreement with the unions, which would have put an end to the industrial action.
Earlier this month, more than 1000 council workers walked out in the streets of Southampton to protest against the pay cuts the city council imposed on them.
After more than 12 weeks of industrial actions, unions and council leaders have still not reached an agreement that would put an end to the general discontent among workers.
Unison secretary Mike Tucker believes that cuts could be made in other places: “The pay cuts our members have had to suffer have been quite substantial, 15% off their normal take home pay. We also believe the council can save money in other ways, no other council in this region have cut workers' pay.
“Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight and Hampshire (county council) have all been able to manage to reduce their expenditure without cutting wages. We think Southampton should do the same.”
Social worker Jeremy - who didn't want to reveal his full name - said: “They talk about negotiation but there isn't any negotiation. They just want us to get on with it. [If we're not satisfied] we're going to carry on, we're not here for the short term. We give an excellent service and we want to be remunerated as such.”
Council staff have recently had to take pay cuts of between 2 and 5.5%. The City Council said that these cuts would allow them to protect 400 jobs and save £75m over 4 years.
Conservative councillor Jeremy Moulton believes that the unions have gone too far: “[The unions are being] totally unreasonable. Because Southampton was the first council to say that we'd look at this way of working, the unions have picked on Southampton and the residents and put them through a lot of misery.
"We don't want to go down the route of losing people who are delivering key services to the residents, but if things do go on we'll have to take action. The public are saying 'enough is enough'. They want their bins collected - they want the services that they paid their taxes for.”
If unions and City Council don't agree to compromise, Southampton residents will have to continue to live with the consequences of the dispute.