'Robust' talks held over Birmingham City Council job cuts, says union

GMB Union Strike Ballot Birmingham Cit Council
Birmingham's Council House (left) GMB Union 'official dispute' sign Credit: PA Images

Union bosses have told ITV News they have had "robust" discussions with Birmingham City Council's leadership over plans to cut 600 jobs. 

The struggling local authority is trying to save £300m over the next two years and pay off a £760m equal pay bill.

The GMB Union, Birmingham City Council’s largest staff union, is balloting its members over strike action which it says could "bring the city to a halt."

Speaking to ITV News Central GMB Regional Organiser, Delcan Downes said: "They were frank and robust discussions.

"The fact that the CEO had briefed staff before the announcement took place is a real concern to us and it's something we had strong objections to with the leader."

He continued: “Birmingham is already slashed to the bone after years of Government austerity.

Job cuts on this scale will see vital local services suffer even more - particularly those staffed by the women workers the council has discriminated against for decades.

“After years of ignoring rampant pay discrimination, this is a crisis of the council’s own making. GMB won’t stand by as working Brummies’ are expected to pay the price.”

These job cuts are happening, in part because the council owes £760m in equal pay claims to GMB members who weren't been paid correctly over the last six years.

The GMB Union says the council has to pay up - so the money has to come from somewhere. Despite that, Mr Downes said no amount of job losses are palatable.

He said: "Jobs will go and that is really unfortunate. We want the Government to intervene and fund councils properly."

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: "Now that formal consultation with Trade Unions and staff has begun around these proposals, it would not be appropriate to comment further until these discussions and meetings have concluded.

"However, no final decisions have been taken at this stage."

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