Rhondda Cynon Taff council in South Wales has joined Neath and Port Talbot as the second Labour-controlled council to issue Section 188 notices to its workers in an attempt to force through worse terms and conditions.
10,000 workers face dismissal unless they agree to contractual changes that would result in a pay cut. The move was announced unilaterally by the council's HR director, Tony Wilkins. The GMB, which represents many of the workers, has refused to negotiate until the threat of sackings is lifted and has advised all members not to sign any new contracts.
The council, which covers the second-most populous local authority area in Wales, is attempting to slash £60 million from its budget over the next three years. GMB officer Gareth Morgan said “we're aware that some Tory and Lib Dem councils are treating their staff like dirt. Councils like Walsall, Birmingham and Sheffield are using a legal device of pretending to make all their workforce redundant and offering some of them re-employment on worse pay and conditions.
“Now Rhondda Cynon Taff, in the Labour heartlands, are resorting to this lock out tactic. It is totally unacceptable. It's like holding a loaded pistol to people's heads to force them to accept detrimental change or be out of a job with no compensation. We have scarcely begun discussions and we face this lockout threat.”
The actions of the council expose the spinelessness of the current generation of Labour politicians; happy to make posturing speeches about “Tory cuts”, but just as happy to pass on those cuts to workers and service-users in the councils they control. Unions such as the GMB, which are affiliated to the Labour Party, should use that link to force Labour councillors and MPs to resist Tory cuts.