UNION chiefs in Bolton has slammed the Government after it cut the consultation period for large-scale redundencies from 90 to 45 days.

Bolton Council is planning to axe 500 posts as it strives to make £42 million savings between 2013 and 2015, and the Government has now halved the time which organisations must set aside for consultation when they axe more than 100 jobs.

Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson was accused of making it easier to sack workers after she unveiled the changes, which come into effect from April, but the move won praise from some business leaders.

Currently, firms planning to make at least 100 redundancies have to consult staff, usually through unions, for 90 days.

But the minister said a consultation on the changes had produced “a strong argument” for shortening the 90-day period.

Bolton Council has shed 833 posts over the past two years, all without compulsory redundancies, something one union said was partly due to the consultations.

Matt Kilsby, Bolton Unison chairman, said: “We are able to mitigate redundancies, as far as possible, through negotiation and consultation with our members and the council.

“Cutting the opportunity for employers and unions to explore alternatives and ways to avoid large-scale redundancies is a retrograde step.

“The recession has led to fear in the workplace and the Government is adding to those fears by cutting short the opportunity for meaningful talks to take place.”