A THREE-year programme of redundancies at South Tyneside Council may be coming to an end, a senior councillor has claimed.
Since 2010/11 the local authority has shed an estimated 1,200 jobs in the wake of major reductions in funding from central government.
Up to this point, all jobs lost have been achieved through voluntary redundancy.
Yesterday, Coun Ed Malcolm, the council’s lead member for resources and innovation, outlined the tough decisions that lie ahead in the next financial year from April.
The local authority employs 3,500 full and part-time staff.
However, that will be reduced by a further 350 by August 2014.
And Coun Malcolm believes the end of major job-letting is now approaching.
He said: “We need to protect our core workforce, the council is still the biggest employer in the borough next to the hospital.
“We have lost the equivalent of 1,200 full-time posts but now we are coming to the end of that redundancy period.
“Over the next couple of years there will not be the number of redundancies we have seen in the past.
“If we had not entered the partnership with BT, the redundancies would have been worse as we negotiated a ‘no redundancy’ agreement in staff transfers to BT.”
Coun Malcolm added: “This Labour council will rise to the challenges it faces over the coming years. We either plan ahead or slash and burn.”
But Merv Butler, branch secretary of Unison South Tyneside, was less convinced the worst was over.
He said: “It is hoped to draw a line under the redundancies, but we are still in the consultation process for a further 350 job losses.”
Labour’s Coun John Wood said the next three to four years would prove “daunting”, particularly with the impact of welfare reforms to hit the borough from April.
Coun Malcolm said: “This council is still a viable organisation, with a lot of money generated through the balance sheet.
“In the longer term we are looking at sharing services with our neighbouring authorities.”