Thousands could strike over council job losses

First published in News

THOUSANDS of Bolton Council workers could strike over the issue of compulsory redundancies, a union chief has warned.

The threat comes in the wake of ugly scenes at Bolton Town Hall as councillors approved £18 million of cuts on Wednesday night.

Police were called as two protesters refused to leave the public gallery.

Hecklers were given numerous warnings by the Mayor of Bolton Cllr Noel Spencer before he was eventually forced to clear the gallery.

Protesters left the council chamber 30 minutes later.

Bolton Unison branch secretary, Bernadette Gallagher, said: “We are facing cuts on an unprecedented scale. The people of Bolton are being asked to pay for the recklessness of the bankers and the stock exchange through cuts to jobs and services. We have no choice but to make a stand.

“We will protest nationally and locally against the cuts. Ultimately it is central government who are dictating the austerity agenda.

We currently have a policy of working together with the council to prevent compulsory job losses, however we know that this policy will be under tremendous pressure given the potential for £70 million in cuts and a further 1,000 job losses over the next four years.

“We are prepared for the possibility of member meetings to discuss industrial action over the compulsory redundancies issue if necessary.”

The 2012/13 budget approval also means a zero per cent council tax rise is officially confirmed.

An amendment from Bolton’s Tory group calling for the council tax freeze to be repeated next year was voted down.

Earlier, union members had lobbied councillors as they arrived at the town hall.

A Unison spokesman distanced the union from the disruption of the council meeting, adding: “We had a well attended lobby with people from all sectors of Bolton, not just our members, making their feelings clear.

“People are worried about the loss of public services.

We accept there is a lot of anger and frustration out there, which manifests itself in different ways but we do not necessarily agree with some of the ways in which that is expressed.”

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