Save our Croydon Rally Speech by Yvonne Green, Branch Secretary
Good evening all,
GET UP STAND UP, STAND UP FOR YOR RIGHTS – MUSIC
Thank you for the opportunity to say a few words at our joint rally of Unison, Unite and GMB.
I would like to ask you all to pause for a few seconds in memory of those who have lost their lives to Covid 19.
The last 10 months or so have been extremely difficult for all and I would like to pay tribute to our NHS Workers, frontline workers, cleaners, ambulance drivers, refuse collectors, administrators, doctors, nurses and many more who are risking their lives on a daily basis.
Covid 19 has had a devastating impact here and across the world, so many lives lost, and so many jobs lost.
I would like to thank my union colleagues who have helped to put this rally together, Janis, Clare, Louise, Ashely and Nana.
We are grateful for the guest speakers Sarah Jones MP, our newly elected General Secretary Christina Mcanea, Jim Kennedy, Donna Murray Turner, Andy Prendergast and messages of solidarity from colleagues from far and wide as we face more cuts to jobs in Croydon Council.
Colleagues Years of Tory led government austerity has had an impact on
- Local authorities and Communities.
- Millions of public sector jobs lost over the years
- Pay not in line with inflation squeezing living standards, hurting local communities
- Public sector pensions attacked
- Council budgets slashed
Colleagues in the summer the council undertook a Staff Review which saw 400 jobs cut under the guise of needing to make savings to cover the budget gap caused by Covid-19.
A demonstration outside BWH was held in August with members from Unison, Unite and GMB.
The former CEO disappeared and never returned to her role.
However, nothing could have prepared us for the news we were about to hear several weeks later that the council was broke. This was devastating news.
The Unions were informed that the council was bankrupt.
In November a S114 Notice was issued by Lisa Taylor Executive Director of Finance.
Colleagues I have lived in Croydon for many years and worked in Croydon Council for 30 years, my parents who have since passed away moved to Croydon with my brothers and sisters. I am proud of Croydon and proud of the diversity of our community.
The impact of the council declaring bankruptcy was devastating news for me and I was very upset and shocked. I also began to think about the impact this would have on my family, friends, staff /our union members, colleagues and neighbours and Croydon as a borough. Thinking more job cuts, cuts to services that our community rely on and the impact on the most vulnerable.
I was inundated with calls from across the borough, with many very upset at the news.
In our survey of our members 36% of our members are angry, 16% are worried and 30% feel let down by the Council’s financial position.
Another consultation was launched just before Christmas for yet more job cuts. Alongside this there is also consultations running to reduce the library services, leisure services and changes to our recycling centres.
The council ignored auditors concerns for over 3 years and has been accused of corporate blindness and it is the services, the community and staff that will pay the price for this mismanagement of council Finances.
It’s a disgrace that the council is in this position and yet no one is being held accountable for bringing the Council to its knees.
Our hard working members and the community did not ignore the warning signs.
The community did not ignore the warning signs so why should we pay the price?
The unions have raised concerns for years about reports of nepotism, inflated wages for friends, excessive use of agency staff, costing the council, and having a negative impact on its finances.
It has to stop and stop now to protect jobs
Services are already cut to the bone,
Staff are complaining of heavy workloads, stress and depression and it can only get worse if the Council continue with these unfair cuts to jobs.
We have met with our members impacted by these cuts and a number of concerns have been raised and we will be feeding this information into the consultation, here are some examples
- Duplication in figures produced
- Process not clear
- Concerns regarding interviews/panel process
- No regular contact from management
- Lack of communication
- No webinars compared to the first consultation exercise
- Poorly thought out plans with no thought for the future
- Feeling like their views aren’t being taken into consideration
- Worried about the future and even if their job is saved what will the Council be like to work for
One member in particular summed up the feelings of many Croydon Council staff, including those not at risk of redundancy,
“If this is going to hurt the residents then it is going to hurt me!”
That is the level of dedication that Croydon Council have to this community.
It is right that investigations have taken place into how the Council has ended up in this position and it is right that steps are taken to make sure these mistakes do not happen in the future. But, that isn’t going to bring back the money that has gone, and we desperately need the Government to do the right thing and provide the financial support needed by Croydon Council to prevent these cuts and any further cuts needing to take place.
Every job lost is a job too many and will have an impact on the community. One of the planned cuts is to Welfare Rights advice, initially the service will be reduced with plans to delete the service entirely. At a time of soaring unemployment and many families struggling to make ends meet this is a service that is needed more than ever.
Cuts to the Violence Reduction Network has the potential to make our streets less safe especially in the circumstances where there are fewer places for people to go, disruption to services and more people driven to extreme measures to make ends meet.
We shouldn’t have to pay for the mistakes of the Council; we shouldn’t have to pay for the cost of responding to Covid-19; and we shouldn’t have to pay for years of underfunding.
Colleagues I would like to thank you again for your time this evening and leave you with these words;
If you fight you won’t always win, but if you don’t fight you will always lose – the late Bob Crow, RMT Union
Keep safe and well, Peace and light to you all