WIGAN Council has lost nearly 1,300 full time jobs since the coalition Government came into power according to a leading union – the fifth highest number in the region.
A report by the GMB union claims that between the first quarter of 2010 and the first quarter of 2011, 1,284 full-time equivalent staff positions were cut by Wigan Metro – a cut of 13.1 per cent. Only Manchester, Lancashire, Liverpool and Rochdale saw more positions cut than Wigan.
In total, the GMB say more than 20,000 local authority jobs have been lost in the North West since the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition came into power. They also claim nationally, some 101,094 jobs have been cut by councils.
The news comes as UK unemployment rose by 114,000 between June and August to 2.57m, a 17-year high, according to official figures.
Paul McCarthy, GMB Regional Secretary said: “The awful reality is that in the North West alone local government job losses since the general election amount to 20,300. There is still more to come. This is part of the over 100,000 job losses across English councils.
“Council workers and their families are paying a terrible price for the government’s austerity drive. These job losses are on top of two years of pay freezes and cuts to conditions and pensions. Care workers, refuse collectors, street cleaners, social workers and all the essential front line council staff are bearing the brunt while those at the top wring their hands and look on.
“How much more are people expected to take before someone admits that the economy is on its knees and we should be supporting working people not sacrificing them?.”
In response to the GMB’s claims Wigan Council’s Deputy Chief Executive Donna Hall said: “The council always tries to be as efficient as possible. More recently we have had to find ways of significantly cutting costs to meet the £66m of cuts in budgets we face. No organisation ever wants to be in a position where it has to lose valued staff but if we are to protect front-line services that people in our borough rely on, difficult decisions have to be made.
“Wherever possible we have tried to reduce staff numbers on a voluntary basis through redundancy and early retirement and those staff who have lost their jobs have been given the help they need to find another job. Since June 2010, 331 people have left the council through voluntary redundancy or early retirement and 187 people through compulsory redundancy.”