We had a city-wide Connexions UNISON meeting on Tuesday lunchtime (which included our 8/9 stewards). We had about 56 members present out of about 180. We updated members on the facing Birmingham Connexions which now looks worse than when we agreed to suspend our industrial action, January 6th pm.
Instead of a 24% cut in budget equalling about a reduction of 30 full time equivalent posts, we are facing a propsed 30% cut, ie approx. 40 FTE posts to go. So much for suspending industrial action! Although to be fair the majority of the stewards group had a few hours to consider the proposal put to us on 6th in order to suspend action, and was taken in good faith, and membership saw it as a small victory at the time. There are wider lessons to disseminate, the bin men were recently shafted after suspending action, BCC used this tactic to their advantage to take the momentum out of the Single Status disupte a couple of years ago.
Management had said that they wouldn’t move towards making any compulsory redundancies (C.R.) before then…in reality they weren’t in a position to do this anyway, although this wasn’t clear to us, or possibly them at the time. They also said they’d try to recuit Connexions staff to the proposed Integrated Family Support Service teams before moving on us for C.R. It is not clear this will be possible and it will be a competitive process with other employees form other you youth support services vying for roles.
This was explained to members. We also had to explain that the regional officer had been mistaken in saying that to reinstate action we’d just need to give a weeks notice…it turns out that as we’d gone past an eight week period after balloting we’ll have to reballot members, all again! The earliest date we could take any action would be 14th March…this turns out to be the date the Council Cabinet will be presented with a broad outline of proposals about the remodelling and funding of Children Yound People and Family Services….which is likely to target funding at the politically sensitive area of child ptotection related services in Brum (hence the new teams).
We are asking for no compulsory redundancies and:
Alternative funding for CYPF services- BCC are talking to schools about making a contribution to funding for the new Integrated Family Support Service (formerly Teams around the Family) which had the potential to release funding for other children’s services including the Connexions service that schools did not pay for at the moment
Funding the jobs at risk until All Age Careers Service in place – as part of a Transition plan for Connexions and Careers in Birmingham, in the absence of a Coalition transition plan
Agreement that no decisions to put jobs at risk would be made before recruitment to new IFSS posts completed
Connexions provide Redundancy Counselling and Support to all BCC staff threatened with Redundancy as with Rover and Land Rover
Using councils budget reserves and reduce spending on consultants (£60 million last year).
Examples of areas where there haven’t been usch active campaigns might be:
· Lewisham and Warwickshire have decided to close Connexions services without making any provision for an alternative.
· Warwickshire have agreed a cut of 80% from march leaving Warwickshire schools and young people without any impartial independent careers services.