Bradford Council has sent letters to every employee warning them that their jobs are at risk of redundancy.
The prospect of imminent job losses has become a real and scary possibility, said Unison’s branch secretary Linda Crowther.
It is now up to councillors to focus on which departments will suffer cuts – a process which unions say will be complete by Christmas.
In a statement last night, Council chief executive Tony Reeves said: “While we do not yet have the full picture, we estimate that the financial effect of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review on Bradford Council will amount to cuts of around £65 million in 2011-12, a further £15 million in 2012-13 and £25 million over the following two years.
“We have been taking action to secure substantial savings for some months now, to prioritise our available resources on the vital services local people need and to preserve jobs where possible. A policy of strict vacancy control has reduced the Council’s workforce by around 500 posts since December, 2009. Despite that, we may not be able to sustain the number of people we currently employ in the future and we need to look at a possible further reduction in our workforce.”
Mrs Crowther said: “What the Council has decided to do, based on the advice of the legal team, is to serve everyone with this risk notice so when the politicians decide what services ought to be kept they don’t need to enter into consultations about individual posts.”
Meetings between unions and senior Council management are scheduled in the coming weeks, she said.
She said: “The consultation process has started. It’s 90 days because this affects more than 99 people. We expect there will be some people’s contracts terminated or naturally concluded by the end of December.
“Our position is that they didn’t need to go to these lengths at this stage because it does scare people.” Ray Jones, of Unite, said: “We are appalled the Council has decided to give some many people an early Christmas present by issuing them with a threatening letter.”
He said unions made suggestions about cutting hours and sick pay which the Council had ignored. He said he believed agency staff were still employed in full time positions.
Council leader Ian Greenwood, said: “This is a very worrying time for everyone, particularly vulnerable people, who depends on public services and everyone who works in the public sector, or in the private and voluntary sectors on projects funded by public money.”
He said he remained determined that compulsory redundancies would only occur as a last resort.
He said: “The Council is looking to cut jobs through vacancy control and voluntary redundancy. We know that any compulsory redundancies would adversely affect the whole of our district’s economy, as well as being devastating for the individual employees concerned and their families.
“We will do everything we can to minimise the impact on front-line services, employment and the local economy during this time of unprecedented Government cuts in public sector funding.”
Last week Mr Reeves warned that the district is facing up to 7,500 private and public job losses as a result of Government cuts unveiled.
Ray Alderman, Bradford convenor of GMB, said: “It’s people’s livelihoods and families that are threatened by these savage budget cuts.”