Unison members vote for industrial action in Birmingham

Unison members at Birmingham Council have voted to take industrial action after 47 of its members in adult services were made redundant.

The job losses will come into effect next month and are caused by the closure of nine council-owned care homes. They have “traumatised a whole lot of people”, said Graeme Horn, joint branch secretary of Unison’s Birmingham branch. The 47 members include care assistants and managers. There will be a total of 180 redundancies in the council’s adult care services.

Work to rule

Horn said a ballot of members had showed “strong support” for taking some form of action, such as working to rule.

Unison is aggrieved at the decision to issue compulsory rather than voluntary redundancies, and the lack of support offered to people hoping to find alternative jobs elsewhere in the council after being made redundant.

Union wants more support for members

“In our learning disability services we have four or five homes and two day centres, which have been earmarked for closure. There are 15 more care homes due to be closed,” said Horn, whose branch represents 4,500 social care workers in children’s and adult services at Birmingham Council.

“The council is now restricting its redeployment register so that people can only stay on there for three months, whereas before there was no maximum limit. We’re concerned that the council is not making vacancies available to our members through redeployment,” he added.

Care home closures

The redundancies at Birmingham Council’s adult services directorate are a result of an ongoing plan to close 14 care homes.

The closures fall under the council’s “business transformation programme”, launched in 2006 in an attempt to achieve £1bn in efficiency savings over 10 years.

Recruitment campaign

Meanwhile, the council has launched a recruitment campaign to strengthen the capacity of its children’s services department, currently under an improvement notice from central government.

The directorate was heavily criticised in a report from its scrutiny committee earlier this month, which found “systemic and deeply ingrained” weaknesses. This included vacancy rates of 15-20% for qualified social work posts.

A council spokesperson said: “We’re embarking on a recruitment strategy to ensure all posts are filled and are encouraging agency staff to apply for permanent roles.”

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