HCA Budget Cuts - Unite Prepares to Resist!
The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has been asked by its sponsor department (Communities and Local Government, CLG) to model cuts of 25% and 40% of operating costs to meet the cuts announced as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review 2015. The CLG itself has already announced that a 'Voluntary Exit Scheme' - a rebranding of voluntary redundancy - will be opened later this year and will be available to staff employed directly by the department.
Unite Members Declare We Will Strike to Fight Compulsory Redundancies!
Unite at the HCA has registered its concern for the ability of the Agency to function effectively in the face of such large-scale reductions in budgets, however hard staff work. The cuts could remove almost half the HCA's operating budget, and as such, Unite fears that compulsory redundancy will be anavoidable. Last month, all Unite HCA members were asked to support the statement:
“While we acknowledge that the savings required from HCA operating budgets are driven by government policies, Unite will not tolerate compulsory redundancy as a means of achieving a reduction in costs. Should a compulsory notice be issued to any Unite member, we automatically enter into a dispute and will immediately ballot for industrial action."
Over 95% of the members responding to the ballot agreed that they would support industrial action should any colleague be placed under threat of compulsory redundancy. This placed a firm statement of intent at the initial negotiations with management. The members also pledged to support any other union which similarly engaged in action to save jobs.
Negotiations continue at the Agency over how cuts to budgets will be managed, but Unite continues to prepare its members to resist not just compulsory redundancies, but detrimental changes to pay and working conditions. The firm stand has earned the union a growing membership across the Agency, and a stronger bargaining position.