Stop attacking your staff: a reply to the Council Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council

There was a meeting of the local Labour Party this evening, called by the council leader, all about the budget and the way forward. I was going to attend, but was unable to so I sent him an email instead:

I had intended to come to yesterday’s meeting, but I had a prior appointment. I see from your mail that you are interested in members’ views about the budget and the way forward. Well, below are my views, though you will probably find them unpalatable.

I’m aware that the council faces an unprecedented cut in its budget from central government. However, the way those cuts are implemented lies with you. Council staff are hard-working and have made sacrifices in recent years, with a three year pay freeze (equivalent to a pay cut of 14%) and covering for the many staff who have been made redundant. The council should be a good place to work, yet I understand that recent interest in voluntary redundancy has been massively over-subscribed. So, despite the poor state of the jobs market, staff are queuing up to leave! This should suggest to anyone with eyes to see that there is something seriously wrong, yet it is not addressed. And now I understand that you are insisting on attacking the terms and conditions of staff. Your proposal to sack everyone and re-employ them on less favourable contracts is an absolute disgrace. I’m aware that further cuts have to be made, but why the insistence on the attack on staff, even where alternatives have been suggested. It is the sort of stunt I would expect from a Tory council. Party member or not, it is not one I can vote for.

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