Workers storm Southampton Civic Centre as Council votes through pay and job cuts

Posted on February 16, 2011 by

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Protesters held a lobby this afternoon at Southampton City Council’s budget-setting meeting, before a break-off group managed to break through security and got into the building, banging on the door of the Council Chamber minutes before £25m of cuts were finalised.

Initially people were allowed to be in the public gallery, however the Mayor soon ejected all members of the public after they became too rowdy (singing Tory-related chants), continuing the meeting behind closed doors.  Meanwhile, a well attended rally was held from 1pm outside the front of the Civic Centre, with mainly Unite and UNISON members along with members of the public. Speeches were made, chanting was done and all was placid for a while…

Not content with standing outside whilst the decision was made, a group of at least a dozen people managed to dodge security guards to get into the Civic Centre, which they apparently managed to do through the library side.  Once they got in they proceeded to make some commotion and inside, and some of them started banging on the door of the Council Chamber where the Councillors were coming to the end of the meeting.

However, despite the activists attempted intervention, the Council managed to get their measures voted through anyway.  A package of  £25m of cuts and 290 jobs lost was agreed, along with a pay cut for the majority of staff.  The pay cuts have been scaled across pay grades though, unlike the original proposals, and the Council also promised to increase spending on roads, children and creating jobs (Ed. – surely some mistake? Or a good sense of irony?).

Some homegrown placards

Allotment plotholders were lobbying the Council too over 100% funding cuts

Steve Brazier, Unison’s south east regional manager, said: “The view is the council is blackmailing staff into accepting a pay cut, or accept job losses, which is not fair. This is not a choice that people voted for. These proposals prove it was a lie when the government claimed front-line services would not be affected by their cuts.”

We will bringing you more on the day when we have some more details – if you were one of the stormers or saw it then send us in your story!

~UPDATE~

Local MPs John Denham and Alan Whitehead have hit out the cuts voted through today, saying that they’re the worst in Southampton City Council’s history and up to 4 times the cuts in neighbouring counties.  John said that “The Tory-led Government is cutting too deep, and too fast.  And Southampton’s Tories are far too eager to do their dirty work for them”, with Alan adding that The Tories have got a terrible deal for Southampton- with much deeper cuts than in neighbouring Councils.  At the same time they appear to have made almost no attempt to protect the vulnerable in the proposals they’ve put forward".

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Posted in: News, Southampton