Council strike threat averted

A STRIKE threat which could have closed dozens of Kirklees schools has been called off.
Talks between Kirklees Council officials and representatives of the public service union Unison have resulted in a strike ballot being suspended.
Unison’s 8,500 members were to have been asked whether they wanted to strike next month in protest at redundancy procedures.
Kirklees Council is seeking to cut its nonschool staff by 1,500 and compulsory redundancies are likely.
The council and the union this week agreed a ‘memo of understanding’, an agreement to work out a way forward.
The last strike in Kirklees in June 2008 closed 80 schools and left a huge backlog of unemptied bins.
The council’s chief executive Adrian Lythgo said the authority could not plan any further ahead than October 22, the date when the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review is published. Deep cuts are expected.
Mr Lythgo said talks with the union would continue and he was satisfied that no industrial action was imminent. Had union members approved strike action, a fiveday stoppage was pencilled in for midOctober.
Mr Lythgo said: “The challenge has been greater than expected since the June budget to deliver good quality services to the people of Kirklees, but with even less budget and resources than we previously thought.
“We need to balance our priorities, our budget and our service offering while at the same time supporting staff through a difficult and challenging period of radical change.
“We will continue to meet with Unison and the other trade unions  under the normal agreed processes of negotiation.
“A strike at this time would disrupt our services and inevitably delay the normal negotiating process which is seeking to be as fair as possible to all our employees.”
Kirklees Unison branch secretary Paul Holmes said it was clear members would have voted for industrial action.
He was now looking forward to “meaningful discussions” with the council.
Unison was concerned that the council planned to use the socalled ‘Bradford Formula’ based on sickness and length of absence to decide who should go.

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