Southampton Strikes - More Talks

Leader's of the Southampton City Council will meet with Unions on Wednesday (Oct 12th) to try and reach an agreement around the on-going row over pay cuts.

Last week more than 1000 workers from across the city took strike action, including bin men and social workers - something they've been doing for months now in protest at pay changes brought in by the council.

Ian Woodland, Unite regional officer, said:

"We have put alternatives on the table which will have helped the council manage its budget yet retain the services people value. The fact that the council rejected these speaks volumes - its leadership wants a scrap to show its political machismo.

"The people of this city are not interested in the council's power games. They want the services they pay for to be delivered by a fairly treated workforce. It is high time that Southampton council got the message."

However Deputy Leader of the city council, Jeremy Moulton said:

"We are trying hard to compromise and I think finally the unions are starting to see that we have to make cuts somewhere. We want to do this in co-operation with the unions, so we will have to see what happens. It is a choice between cutting services and cutting a lot of jobs. We don't want to go down that route - we want to keep services going. Sometimes it does seem that the union's priority is protecting pay and not protecting jobs."

He added:

"At the moment we're protecting staff that are earning under £17,500 - what we're now saying is no-one earning under £22,000 will get a pay cut - that's more than half of all council staff. We've also given staff earning under £17,500 a £250 pay rise. That's 40% of our staff.

"We're all meeting on Wednesday 12th October and we're hoping and expecting for an agreement to be reached. If it isn't, we will have to look at other options. If you strike beyond 12 weeks you lose you legal protection and the council could then sack staff. But we don't want to do that - it's at the extreme end of what might happen. At the same time this can't go on forever - it's already gone on for too long."