Lewisham truancy staff to strike over cuts

Laura McCardle
Friday, March 7, 2014

Lewisham Council's truancy workers will stage a 24-hour strike over plans to reduce the workforce by almost half.

Lewisham Council wants to reduce its truancy services as part of council-wide budget cuts
Lewisham Council wants to reduce its truancy services as part of council-wide budget cuts

The strike, due to take place on Wednesday, has been called by union Unite in response to proposals put forward as part of council-wide plans to save £95m by 2017/18.

A council report reveals that the local authority wants to reduce the welfare and attendance department’s budget by £300,000 to £6.5m by 2015/16, having already slashed it by £200,000 in February last year.

It proposes to make the saving by cutting staff numbers from 22 to 12.5.

The council also wants schools to "buy in" the service from existing budgets in a bid to save money.

Onay Kasab, Unite regional officer, said the council should reconsider the plans.

He said: “Our members our taking this action as a last resort in defence of a service that helps 4,000 schoolchildren annually.

“If the cuts go ahead, the result will be a disaster for truancy levels across the borough, with a real impact on young people and the social problems that will follow.

“We understand the financial straitjacket facing the council because of the large cuts to funding imposed by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles – however, our members are determined to save this service.”

A council spokeswoman said: "As a result of significant budget cuts by central government we have had to make some difficult decisions.

"The agreed proposals in this area will ensure that we have a strong attendance and welfare service and schools will also be able to buy in additional services should they wish to.

"We very much regret this strike action called by Unite."

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