I went to a joint union group meeting at Reading Borough Council on Thursday last week. The GMB, Unite and Unison were represented and the current serious in year cuts -- £1.6 million -- as well as the devastating -- 25 to 40% -- future cuts were discussed.
The Directorate of Education & Children's Services (DECS) are being hit the hardest in Reading at present by the in year cuts. This is already having a massive impact with school expansion plans being knocked on the head, at St John's for example. This will mean that fewer children will have access to a good local school.
Employees across the Council -- under the Performance Improvement Programme (PIP) -- have received letters offering them a package to leave or reduce hours. This is bad news and will result in a reduction in quantity and quality of public services, but will hopefully mean that we avoid compulsory redundancies.
The government's spending review will take place in October and Local Authorities will then know a bit more about how dire situation is!
One carer talked passionately about some of the impacts that council cost-cutting is having, such as with the move from using council carers to private care agencies. She said that this had been deeply upsetting for older people who had been used to a regular carer, and now got a different one each week.
There was general agreement that action needs to be taken to protect our public services and the following was agreed:
Weekly demos outside the Civic Centre, everyWednesday - 12 - 2pm.
A march and rally in late September is also being planned by the unions.
If you're free on a Wednesday lunchtime, I'm sure that any support would be appreciated.