180 more jobs to go at Stoke-on-Trent City Council
ALMOST 200 more council jobs are to be cut to help save £2 million.
Scores of the 180 affected workers at Stoke-on-Trent City Council face compulsory redundancy because too few have agreed to leave voluntarily.
The £2 million cuts in the council's 'city renewal' department are likely to hit crucial services in highways, grounds maintenance, parks, construction and leisure.
Union calls for alternative budget cuts have been rejected to leave some of the authority's lowest paid workers facing losing their jobs.
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The proposed job losses come as leaders are locked in talks this week over plans to cut another £23 million from April which will see further redundancies confirmed. The Sentinel understands less than half of the initial 180 workers at risk of redundancy have registered an interest in leaving voluntarily and just a handful have signed agreements.
Unison Stoke-on-Trent's branch secretary Clive Rushton said: "For low-paid workers without long service, and especially those under 40, voluntary redundancy really delivers very little for them.
"There are people who want and need to keep these jobs."
Cabinet members and senior officers held a meeting on Tuesday to discuss budget cuts for 2013/14 and proposals are thought to be imminent.
The Labour-run authority has confirmed it will not increase council tax from April but has warned residents to prepare for major cuts.
Mr Rushton said Unison fears the worst for members. He added: "The worry is there is no way that the next round of cuts will not hit frontline services.
"When there is no meat on the bone you have to cut into the bone itself.
"We sit in trepidation for our members, not just because people are going to lose their jobs, but because of the impact on those left behind if they are expected to pick up the workload."
More than 600 workers registered an interest in quitting the council earlier this year after the authority announced plans to cut 232 jobs as part of its 2012/13 budget. A further 69 vacant posts were not filled.
A total of 800 redundancies were made in 2011.
Councillor Dave Conway, leader of the opposition City Independents group, said: "These latest job cuts are in frontline services. The big question is whether the council is making the work redundant at the same time as the workers.
"If it is I want to know how and if it isn't I don't see how the services will cope."
Asked about the planned job losses, Councillor Olwen Hamer, cabinet member for transformation and resources, said: "The city council works very hard to avoid compulsory redundancies wherever possible and these matters are currently being discussed with the trade unions.
"There will be further detailed discussions with employees."