Workers at Wolverhampton City Council have voted for a ballot on strike action over plans to axe 1,000 jobs.
The first in a string of meetings was held between staff and union bosses. Unison today said that its members showed they were unanimously in favour of a ballot being held.
Dawn Sant, Unison regional organiser, said: “We called the meeting quickly because the council only gave 24 hours notice before they announced the cuts.
“The outcome was unanimous and our members have voted for a consultative ballot if the council decides to make compulsory redundancies.
“A lot of people who attended the meeting were in shock. It is a completely awful situation they have found themselves in.
“As you can imagine a lot of people are angry and upset, even more so because of plans to spend up to £15 million on a refurbishment of the Civic Centre.”
Dozens of staff attended the meeting in the council chamber last night. More meetings are to be held in the coming weeks.
One worker who did not wish to be named but has worked as a cleaner for almost 30 years, said: “If I am one of the thousand that gets made redundant, it is going to be very hard. I was looking at buying my own home but I may not be able to do that now. I help support my 20-year-old son who lives with me on an apprenticeship scheme, I am worried about how we are going to cope if I lose my job.
“It is horrible, especially considering Christmas is just around the corner.”
Another worker added: “There are a lot of good people who have worked for the council all their lives and do their job to the best of their ability. They don’t know anything else so it is going to be a struggle for them to get a new job.”
Unison is due to meet with city council chief executive Simon Warren today and will submit a Freedom of Information request to explore finances and see how money is being spent.
Wolverhampton City Council’s human resources boss Councillor Paul Sweet said he was ‘disappointed’ in the ballot decision.
He has called for Unison to join forces with the ruling Labour group on Wolverhampton City Council to highlight how urban areas were disadvantaged by spending cuts. And he defended the £15 million refurbishment of the Civic Centre.
“This capital investment in the Civic Centre will enable us to close 12 separate council buildings across the city, delivering recurrent savings of £500,000 a year”, he said. “In the face of massive Government cuts, it makes sense to bring most of our staff under one roof and save the costs of running offices.”