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City Council Budget Proposals – UNISON Response

Manchester Council UNISON members will have seen the broadcast issued yesterday by the Council leadership.

Within the links in the broadcast is a section of budget cuts in the Corporate Core which includes the following :

‘Revised HR policies and processes – Around £3.2 million in 2018/19 and 2019/20

By reviewing the organisation’s HR policies to reduce mainstream employment costs by 1.9 per cent the Council could make savings of around £3.2 million. This would involve engaging staff and trade unions to explore how workforce costs could be reduced without further reducing the number of posts.’

UNISON has made it clear to the Council that we are always prepared to discuss how policies and procedures can be improved and are happy to discuss options to achieve savings at a time of yet more Tory cuts in Manchester’s budget despite the rhetoric of the Northern Powerhouse.

This could include a serious reduction in the number of external consultants and the extortionate cost of so called ‘day rates’ for those engaged for many months if not years and who should be employed on short term contracts at far less cost which could achieve significant savings.

Another area that could be explored is how to reduce the massive fees paid to employment agencies and instead employ staff directly which would be better for the workers involved as well as achieving cost reductions for the Council to use to support services.

There has been a degree of media speculation as to what will be looked at in relation to the figure of £3.2m.

The truth is no specific proposals have been identified to equate to that figure.

Regardless of any proposals which have yet to emerge the Branch has made it very clear to the Council that we will oppose any cuts in our member’s terms and conditions whether that be pay, working hours, annual leave, sickness pay , unsocial hours payments or pay protection arrangements.

It is our members who have worked hard to keep our services going to deliver for Manchester people at a time of 40% past budget cuts and the loss of over 4,000 jobs.

Options to now attack those who have strived to do their best for the City in such difficult circumstances are completely unacceptable and will be fought vigorously by the branch if they are pursued.

However the Council budget process will continue for a number of months and many options for overall budget savings may not be taken forward.

The branch will keep members informed of any developments throughout the process and our Branch policy remains the same which is to ballot our members if our terms and conditions are attacked.

Hopefully our discussions with the Council will result in an agreed way forward which will not make it necessary to take that action.

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