CITY leaders have officially moved to authorise compulsory redundancies as they battle to plug a £126 million black hole – bringing the Capital to the brink of all-out strike action.
If approved, fresh proposals to be debated by councillors will allow managers to impose compulsory cuts where employees have opted not to take advantage of voluntary redundancy within the set timescale.
The council wants to axe around 2000 posts as part of plans to achieve total savings worth £141m over the next four years.
It is understood only around 1200 workers have indicated that they would be prepared to take voluntary severance, increasing fears that forced redundancies have now become inevitable.
But the move is likely to infuriate union bosses, who warned previously that any attempt to bring in compulsory reductions would automatically trigger a ballot on industrial action.
Leaders at Unison – which counts more than 9000 council workers among its members – have also suggested that a vote in support of strikes would be likely given current circumstances.
City chiefs have announced enhanced voluntary redundancy terms in a bid to encourage targeted workers to come forward and minimise the need for mandatory cuts.
Should compulsory redundancies be required, the number would be “small”, they added.
Councillor Alasdair Rankin, finance leader, said: “We want to maintain frontline services to the best of our ability within the resources that we have.
“Given that’s our priority and that we have to balance the budget, we have come to the conclusion that we have nowhere else to go. We cannot continue employing the number of people that we do.
“We’re restructuring the council. Nevertheless, it doesn’t look possible that we can balance the budget and maintain services with the current level of staff that we have.
“At the end of the day, we obviously hope to get to that 2000 [job cuts] figure by voluntary release as far as possible.
“If it turns out that we need to do more, then we will do it by looking for compulsory redundancies. That is very much a last resort.”