Big protests planned at Southampton City Council’s upcoming budget-setting meeting

Posted on February 13, 2011 by

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Wednesday the 16th will see an ad-hoc collection of activists and workers converging on Southampton City Council’s annual budget setting meeting to protest many of the decisions the Council is likely to make on the day.

"Who here won't be voting Tory in May?"

Local Unions vote (again) to reject the Council's plans

The meeting is where the Council decides their budget for the next financial year, and so many of the changes and cuts in services will be put to vote during this meeting.  With a Tory majority in the Council it is likely that these measures will pass, including the changes to Council worker’s employment, cuts to allotment funding, libraries and other services like the Women’s Refuge Centre (more on this last one soon from The Blowhole…).

Southampton United for Public Services (SUPS), Unite the Union and UNISON Southampton have called for a lobby of the meeting in protest against the Council’s proposed lay-offs and pay cuts for Council workers, as well as against a reduction in public services in Southampton and around the country.

The Council maintain that they have to make cuts to meet the reductions in their budget from the government, as part of the ConDem’s drive to reduce the national defecit and transfer Public Services to the ‘Big Society’.  However, they’ve faced growing criticism for a lack of consultation over the plans and for an apparent overwillingness to implement the central government’s agenda.

The Council has also been criticised for planning to force all staff to accept the new condtions by stopping all contracts and re-employing only staff who agree to the new conditions on new contracts, a move that unions say is designed to make workers panic and scared into accepting them.  There’s also been rumblings over an apparent breach of data protection a couple of years ago when the Council accessed private information on union membership, which hasn’t exactly helped soothe their staff’s feathers…

Meanwhile, the Council worker’s union are holding a secret ballot on whether to reject and resist the Council’s plan following a third mass meeting of 900 Unite and UNISON members on February 3rd which again rejected the Council’s offer, with the possibility of strike action in future on the cards.  This follows on from protests last month where around 1000 Council workers marched on the Civic Centre.

Also likely to be voicing their discontent will be allotment plotholders, who are angry at a lack of consultation over Council plans announced only a couple of weeks ago to cut all funding for maintenance to the cities allotments.

Local groups including the Southampton Allotment and Gardens Association (SAGA) have asked for more time to discuss these proposals in order to make sure allotment sites remained maintained and universally accessible, but it’s likely the change will be steamrollered through on the 16th despite a popular petition with over 500 signatures.

Other services likely to be affected by the meeting include libraries, day centres and a woman’s refuge centre, each likely to attract protesters on the day.

The Lobby will be taking place from 1 til 2pm outside the front of the Civic Centre.  We’ll be bringing you a report on what happens on the day.

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Posted in: News, Southampton, UK