Beleaguered Croydon council faces payroll staff strike over restructure

·3-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Payroll staff at bankrupt Croydon Council are considering strike action over a proposed cost-cutting restructure, GMB union has said.

Union members will be balloted next week over fears the council’s proposed department restructure would axe a quarter of current jobs.

Under the proposals the team would be reduced by three posts, from 12 to 9.

The beleaguered council is currently facing a £1.6 billion fiscal black hole, which Tory Croydon Mayor Jason Perry said is inherited from the previous Labour administration.

The council has been put in special measures as the Government seeks to write off more than £500 million of loans the local authority has racked up and cannot pay back.

But the union is concerned that women would be “exclusively” affected by the proposed staffing cuts.

Workers and residents should not pay for the council’s “disastrous financial position”, GMB union said on Tuesday.

Staff have made a number of counter-proposals to save money and protect jobs, which have not been fully considered, the union claimed.

Staff also allegedly submitted “numerous grievances” which have not been acknowledged by HR.

The ballot opens on March 27 and is due to close on April 3.

Rachael Baylis, GMB Organising Assistant said: “The current situation at Croydon Council is not the fault of those who are now being faced with job losses and increased workload, it is down to financial mismanagement and severe cuts to Local Authority Funding.

“GMB opposes these potentially discriminatory restructure plans and want to work with the council to find a solution that does not lead to yet another round of redundancies and increased workloads for remaining staff.

“Croydon needs to sit down with us and take workers counter proposals seriously. If they don’t get round the table with us, then we will see them on the picket line.”

The union called on Croydon Mayor Jason Perry to convince the Government to fund Croydon “fairly” to avoid any staffing cuts.

A spokesperson for Croydon Council said: “The council needs to make difficult but necessary decisions to address its financial challenges and to become smaller, more efficient and financially sustainable for the future.

“The council has been consulting with payroll employees on proposals to restructure the team. All feedback from affected employees has been fully considered and the council will continue to update affected employees on the progress of the consultation.”

It issued its third bankruptcy notice in two years in November and earlier this month signed off a record 15 per cent council tax rise in a bid to smooth out its finances.

Tony McArdle, who was appointed chair of the borough’s improvement panel two years ago, will scrutinise significant financial decisions in Croydon.

The Conservatives won control of the town hall in the local election last May.

Mr Perry said: “Given the additional £224million of capitalisation directions agreed last month, and our request for an unprecedented debt write-off, it is understandable that Government wants to formalise our current improvement arrangements as a precautionary measure in light of the additional historic issues which have been uncovered.

“I welcome the continuing focus Government and the Improvement Panel are giving to support our goal of returning sustainable local government to Croydon and reducing the £1.6bn toxic debt level inherited from the previous administration.”

Croydon Labour said in a statement: “Giving new powers of direction to Government officials is a clear sign Government is losing confidence in the leadership of the council.”