Council strike ballot

DONCASTER Council's biggest trade union has started the ball rolling over a prospective strike over public spending cutbacks.

Shop stewards and convenors at the authority's branch of the public services union Unison have voted to ballot their members over action against cuts they fear will lead to as many as 2,000 job losses.

The council have already revealed 700 staff are expected to go under voluntary redundancy packages, subject to final rubber stamping of some.

Hundreds have already left.

But the authority is facing savings of 80 million over the next three years, with more jobs expected to go next year.

Around 50 union representatives attended a branch executive meeting, which unanimously agreed to ask union bosses for permission to go ahead and hold a strike ballot.

The planned ballot is over three issues.

They are:

* Cuts to jobs, including compulsory redundancies.

* Changes to terms and conditions.

* Cuts to services.

Doncaster Council bosses were due to be notified of the vote yesterday.

Leaders at the union are looking to co-ordinate any action they take with other council unions, such as GMB, Unite, and teaching unions such as the NUT and NASUWT.

Officials are now passing the decision on to members across the council, and are planning meetings in Doncaster town centre and at workplaces in the borough.

Branch secretary Jim Board said the attendance at the meeting saw significantly higher numbers attending than is usually the case for executive meetings.

He said: "We have sent out requests to ballot.

"If the council said there will be no compulsory redundancies, and would come forward and say there would be no changes to terms and conditions we would call the ballot off. We're are not expecting that to happen.

"We have to fight to defend terms and conditions, and each others' jobs. We saying be prepared for industrial action now and in the future.

"This is a battle that is bigger than any I have known. This is not just the odd job, it is hundreds of jobs and the services that are used by the whole of Doncaster.

"We believe we have a vital role in defending those services."

No one was available to comment at Doncaster Council.

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