Unite, the UK’s leading union, has warned today (Thursday 12 November) that workers at Croydon council must not be used as scapegoats following the announcement that  the local authority is facing a major financial crisis and has been forced to issue a section 114 notice.

Hundreds of members

Unite represents hundreds of members at the council including in parks, social services and CCTV. The union represents hundreds more members operating for Croydon’s sub-contractors including: waste services, leisure, education and housing, who are also potentially affected by the council’s financial crisis.

Earlier this year the council made 15 per cent of its staff redundant, with some departments losing a quarter of their job roles. At the time Unite raised serious concerns that frontline staff were not significantly protected.

Four day week?

Unite is alarmed at suggestions that the council could move to a four day week service and reduce the terms and conditions of staff. Not only will this adversely affect workers but it will result in local residents receiving far poorer services, with the most vulnerable being the worst affected.

The union believes that while Croydon may have made some questionable financial decisions, an increasing number of councils have serious financial challenges.

Croydon’s financial crisis is primarily a result of 10 years of Conservative austerity, which have cut council finances to the bone. This situation has been made far worse by the Covid-19 pandemic which has dramatically increased expenditure and reduced income; - and additional funding from the government has in no way covered the shortfall.

No scapegoats

Unite regional officer Clare Keogh said: “Croydon council workers must not be forced to pay for the government’s and the local authorities financial mismanagement with their jobs.

“Any attempt to reduce workers’ terms and conditions and or cut hours will be fully resisted by Unite.

“It is not in the interests of the workforce or local residents for such cuts to be made.

“Council workers who are dedicated to providing a first class service to local residents, have seen their pay fall by over 20 per cent in real terms in a decade, due to the politics of austerity. Further cuts are totally unacceptable.

“The real villains of the piece are successive Conservative governments which have starved local government of funding and then appear puzzled when a once in a century pandemic pushes councils over the financial precipice.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: barckley.sumner@unitetheunion.org

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.