Union hopes South Tyneside Council job cuts ‘won’t be too bad’

HOPEFUL ... Merv Butler.
HOPEFUL ... Merv Butler.

A TRADE union leader is hopeful a prediction of 350 job losses at South Tyneside Council over the next financial year will prove an over-estimation.

That was the number of posts Unison was presented with by council bosses at the end of August last year.

But the union’s borough branch secretary, Merv Butler, is “hopeful” the actual figure will prove less – despite the local authority needing to make a massive £22m in savings in the 12 months from April.

Whatever transpires he accepts his members are facing “an extremely tough time”, with service review after service review identifying further cutbacks.

That comes after the council has already made an estimated £90m in efficiency savings since 2010 – shedding 1,200 jobs in the process.

The biggest cut for the coming year will be a £7.5m reduction to the council’s social care budget, to be achieved through a review of services and by sharing costs with health partners.

Savings of £1.8m have also been identified in council support services in the areas of democratic and legal services and strategy and performance – with an-as-yet unidentified number of jobs to go.

The council is also planning to shed 40 administration and clerical posts – but this is to be achieved through “natural wastage”, with employees not being replaced when they leave.

Mr Butler said: “It is extremely tough. The pressure is on all the time. That is why we are seeing service review after service review, and the subsequent impact on both services on jobs. We were given notice of 350 job losses at the end of August.

“It’s early days but I’m hoping it will prove less than that.”