Council workers in pay cuts protest
Hundreds of council workers will march through a city centre on Monday in protest at planned pay cuts as refuse collectors, street cleaners and traffic wardens continue taking industrial action.
Unite and Unison said the demonstration in Southampton will be the biggest on the South Coast for years amid growing industrial unrest involving increasing numbers of council staff.
The unions said the council had issued notices to its 4,300 employees instructing them to accept new, inferior contracts or be sacked on July 11.
More than 100 refuse collectors are currently on a two-week long strike, which will end on June 22, while street cleaners will start a seven-day walkout on Monday.
Traffic wardens are refusing to collect parking fines, which the unions said is costing the city an estimated £100,000. Meanwhile, 150 social workers are on a work to rule and workers on Itchen Bridge will not be collecting tolls on Monday.
Ian Woodland of Unite criticised council leader Royston Smith for not doing enough to try to resolve the dispute, adding: "His priority ought to have been to do everything in his power to stop hardship, not spread it.
"He had a golden opportunity to avert strife when the unions offered him a one year deal that would have stabilised the council's wage costs. He rejected this out of hand because he wanted a war."
Councillor Jeremy Moulton, deputy leader of Conservative-controlled Southampton City Council, said: "We want to resolve the current situation as quickly as possible but that still needs a £65 million solution over the next four years.
"A date has now been set for a meeting with the unions and Acas. The council wants to see a positive outcome and it is vital that all involved bring a constructive approach to the table and demonstrate a willingness to compromise.
"In the meantime, I call on unions to end all industrial action immediately. Any union action that hits council income and incurs additional cost is only making this already very difficult situation worse. Less money means more pressure on jobs and services. By continuing this action unions are directly affecting the very people and services they should be trying to protect."