Council jobs cut deepens

THE FUTURE for Newham Council employees looks bleak after job cuts were revealed as higher than expected.

It was disclosed at an emergency council meeting last week that the number of positions lost could be as high as 1,600 if changes to staff terms and conditions were not implemented and up to 1,200 if they were.

Chief executive Kim Bromley-Derry told members: “These are estimates. They are indicative figures. They may get worse.”

Councillors were given a free vote on whether to implement the changes, that also include a pay and recruitment freeze and a reduction in holiday entitlement and sick pay, to save �116million over the next four years.

Only Cllr John Gray of West Ham ward and Cllr Michael Nicholas, representing Canning Town South, voted against the measures, which could see workers contracts break with national terms and conditions.

Cllr Gray said during the debate: “My fear is that these cuts would not provide the �savings we need to make. National terms and conditions are the cornerstone of a fair �workplace. They are there to protect the weak and vulnerable.”

The Town Hall has also drawn up contingency plans to “dismiss and re-engage some 5,376 employees” on new contracts if unions do not agree to the changes.

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Trade unionists packed the public gallery following a protest outside East Ham Town Hall.

John Gregory, branch secretary of �Newham Unite and Tom Nixon, branch chairman, said in a joint statement after the meeting: “How can the elected members believe these job losses will not have an impact on the community.

“It is strange that the areas where these jobs are to be lost were not highlighted in the report, and even more strange that the �members never asked where the axe will fall.

“They have not thought through the implications of the proposed cuts and the impact it will have on the community.”

The Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, who chaired the meeting, said the measures were necessary to balance the Town Hall books, which would be done with or without council approval.

He added that he was willing to negotiate and listen to ideas from the unions but his priority was protecting residents’ services and the blame for the cuts should lie with “the Tories and the yellow Tories”.