Council is forced to cut posts

WIGAN Council staff have been invited to apply for voluntary redundancy as the authority begins its latest round of job cuts.

Town hall chiefs have made an appeal for volunteers as they look to make £66m savings over four years following cuts in Government funding. Council workers have until June 10 to express interest in leaving.

Metro bosses today said they would continue to offer advice and support to staff as they are forced to axe up to 858 jobs this year.

Wigan Council’s Director of Corporate Services Paul McKevitt said: “The council needs to make cuts of £66m over the next four years due to governments cuts in grants. The size of these cuts means that we have to reduce our staff numbers. In March 2011 we issued a section 188 notice advising of the potential for 858 job losses at the council this year.

“It is our policy to try where we can to seek to make these reductions through voluntary arrangements. We have therefore embarked on another round of seeking voluntary redundancies from staff. Staff and trades unions have been fully informed of developments and we continue to offer advice and support to anyone who needs.

“The closing date for applications for voluntary redundancy in this latest round is June 10.”

Staff representative Unison say more than 300 jobs have already been lost since the council began its cost-cutting programme.

In August, every Wigan Council worker was given the chance to apply for voluntary redundancy just weeks after the authority initially revealed it was looking to axe up to 820 jobs over three years.

An initial 190 staff took voluntary redundancy and early retirement, with a further 37 starting a “wind-down” through flexible retirement and reduced hours.

But in March, council bosses announced that around 1,000 jobs are to be axed – almost 200 more than originally thought. Council leader Lord Peter Smith admitted that up to 858 posts – the equivalent of 696 full-time jobs - could be lost in the coming 12 months to add to the 300 already axed.