550 workers ask to leave Stoke-on-Trent City Council in voluntary redundancies
MORE than 500 workers want to leave a cash-strapped council after asking about taking voluntary redundancy.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council is looking to cut 180 full-time posts in 2013/14 as part of its latest round of job cuts – and 550 staff have expressed an interest in quitting their jobs at the authority.
But only one quarter of these – equivalent to 90 full-time workers – have so far signed redundancy contracts, meaning another 90 redundancies could be compulsory.
The job cuts are part of plans to save £2 million at the council's city renewal department, and will affect services such as highways, ground maintenance, parks, construction and leisure.
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It is the third year running where demand for redundancies has outstripped the amount needed. Councillor Andy Lilley quit the ruling Labour group in January in a dispute over cuts to workers' terms and conditions.
Mr Lilley, who is now an unaffiliated councillor, believes morale among the workforce has hit rock bottom.
He said: "I have a lot of contact with three unions, and I know there is a lot of dissatisfaction among the workforce.
"The current administration is always trying to blame the Government for what's happening, but they need to take responsibility. At the budget council meeting I proposed an alternative plan that would have saved staff, but nobody wanted to listen. The council did, however, push through plans to increase the chief executive's pay by £5,000."
More than 700 workers registered an interest in quitting the council this financial year after the authority announced plans to cut 232 jobs as part of its 2012/13 budget. A further 69 vacant posts were left unfilled. A total of 800 redundancies were made in 2011/12.
Councillors approved £21 million of cuts at last month's full council budget meeting.
Charles Stewart, assistant chief executive, said: "We carefully consider all applications that we receive for voluntary redundancy to ensure that the needs of the taxpayers will continue to be met as posts are deleted. So far, 550 members of staff have requested estimates.
"We are also mindful this is a very difficult time for our employees and we want to avoid compulsory redundancies as much as possible. We make every effort to help and support employees who want to take voluntary redundancy."