Strike will hurt public, says mayor

A POSSIBLE strike by council workers will only hurt the people of the borough, Mayor of Doncaster Peter Davies has warned.

The authority's branch of the public sector workers union Unison has asked permission from its regional and national officials to ballot staff on the possibility of a strike.

It relates to the prospect of compulsory redundancies, changes to terms and conditions and reductions to services.

Shop stewards unanimously backed the call at a branch executive meeting, attended by around 50 members.

But Mr Davies has criticised the plans.

He said: "So far the unions have acted responsibly and supportively. We have done our level best to give workers as good a deal as we can for those who wanted to leave.

"We got away with 45 redundancies last year, and only 15 of those were permanent staff.

"These job cuts are not down to me or anyone else at Doncaster Council. The culprits are Labour for leaving the country in the state they did and the coalition Government who have made these cuts their policies.

We have been given a fait accompli, to get rid of 70 million in the next three years, and it is impossible to do that without cutting jobs.

"The cuts are nothing to do with Doncaster Council. If they go on strike, the only people they are going to hurt are the people of Doncaster."

So far, the council is looking to let around 700 staff go under voluntary redundancy and early retirement arrangements. Many of those have already left the authority, but some are still to be rubber stamped.

But the authority has warned that it still expects compulsory redundancies.

It has anticipated around 800 will go this year, saving 16 million. However, unions fear as many as 2,000 jobs could be lost in total.

Unison branch secretary Jim Board said he believed it was important to fight to save jobs and services. Union meetings are expected across the borough.