Social workers in Wolverhampton will be balloted on strike action in response to the council’s announcement of 1,000 job cuts by April 2015.
The local Unison branch decided to hold the ballot because of anger over what it terms“ineffective spending decisions” by the council in reaction to government budget cuts.
Regional organiser Dawn Sant said: “It’s really bad timing and unhelpful to those who face a loss of service or redundancy that £15m is being spent on refurbishing the civic centre.
“As you can imagine, people are upset and angry as they watch new office furniture being delivered. They are also aware that the chief executive, Simon Warren, has recently accepted a pay rise lifting his salary and pension to £190k.”
She said Unison would be submitting a Freedom of Information request to explore the council’s finances and discover how money is being spent.
The council maintained there was no alternative to service and job cuts in order to make £89m of savings by 2019, which it said was necessitated by cuts in government funding. This is on top of £100m of savings over the past five years.
Council leader Roger Lawrence said spending would be strictly confined to essential services and priorities set out by residents in a recent consultation exercise: economic regeneration, job creation and supporting vulnerable people”.
“All existing services will have to be reduced and, if they are not essential or do not meet the stated priorities, they must stop altogether. Services that operate on a commercial basis will have to survive without a council subsidy or else close. These changes must also impact on the voluntary sector and the nature of our relationship with the sector.”
In a separate speech to staff Lawrence said the council also intended to use early intervention to help troubled families in order to manage demand for core services.
However, a council spokesperson said there was no detailed information on how social care staff would be affected by cuts. A detailed consultation, showing which areas and services will be hit, is still being drawn up and will be published on 16 October.
Social workers return to work following impromptu strike