Unions team up to fight wage cut plans

CUTS Workers on one of the recent protests outside Portsmouth Guildhall
CUTS Workers on one of the recent protests outside Portsmouth Guildhall
Picture: Amanda Morby

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MORE than 100 worried workers vowed to fight council plans to cut wages and benefit at a mass union meeting.

About 120 members of the Unite, Unison and GMB unions gathered at the event at Portsmouth Guildhall yesterday.

It is the first time in the city’s history that the three unions have united to represent members together.

Lindsay Williams, branch secretary of Portsmouth’s Unison, said: ‘We do have power and the fact that the council now knows that everything said to one union will be shared with every union member in the city is making a difference already.’

Portsmouth City Council and the unions will reopen discussions on Thursday on a range of cost-cutting measures.

Union members believe the proposals, which include cutting sick pay, holiday pay, staff benefits including car parking and a 1.5 per cent pay cut across the board, are unacceptable.

Richard White, of Unite, said: ‘This works out as a cut in wages of between 2.5 and five per cent for all members.

‘This is not a foregone conclusion – our opposition will make a difference.’

Portsmouth City Council has argued that savings made by its suggestions, which would come into effect from April 2012, could save up to 50 jobs.

The council has already decided to cut 184 posts this year as a result of a budget drop of £15m.

But it has warned further savings must be made in years to come.

Union members discussed action including work to rule and all-out strike, in response to what they see as unfair treatment.

Steve Brazier of Unison said: ‘These cuts are the responsibility of central government and hit the public sector across the board.

‘We must stand together, not just at council level or at city level, but across the country as cuts are hitting police, the NHS, and councils.’