150 are told `out you go`

Calderdale Council offices, Northgate House, Halifax
Calderdale Council offices, Northgate House, Halifax

MORE than 150 staff at Calderdale Council were given their marching orders on Wednesday.

The job cuts are the first wave of a string of cost-cutting redundancies at the council, which has already announced it will shed 250 staff over the next three years.

The cuts came on the day it was announced unemployment in Calderdale is at its highest since 1995.

The council cuts are across the whole authority and affect 154 staff out of the 4,500-strong workforce.

The authority said it could not specify the breakdown at the moment but it hoped the top figure would be reduced by voluntary early retirement.

Those affected will be joining a growing dole queue with the latest figures showing the number of people out of work and claiming benefits standing at 6,984, the highest since August 1995.

In Calderdale there are 4,828 men on benefits, which is 7.5 per cent of the working population, compared to 5.6 per cent nationally, and 2,156 women (3.3 per cent) compared to 2.7 per cent nationally.

The 1990s recession peaked in February 1993 when there were 9,313 out of work and claiming benefits in Calderdale.

Halifax MP Linda Riordan has expressed her concern in Parliament about rising unemployment.

“We just get ‘the Government is doing this or that scheme.’ Well, it’s not working with these figures,” she said.

“I’m terribly worried about unemployment in Halifax.”

She took a call earlier this week from Lloyds about its latest round of cuts, which affect more than 70 locally.

“We do not have the large firms any more and are losing jobs that are not being picked up in the private sector.

“The last thing we can afford to do in Calderdale is lose jobs from the council and Lloyds.

“It’s very worrying and I will continue to put pressure on the Govenment to do something for the north.”

And unions have reacted strongly.

Sue McMahon, Calderdale divisional secretary for the NUT, said: “At a time when Calderdale has one of the highest unemployment figures in the UK, Calderdale NUT is alarmed that Calderdale Council has issued notice of redundancy to over 150 public sector workers.

“Calderdale Council has not listened to reason. Many of the jobs at stake are front-line workers. By cutting these jobs it will have a serious impact on essential council services.”

She said the NUT was left with no option but to ballot its members at risk for strike action.

Late last month banner-waving council workers demonstrated outside Halifax Town Hall when the jobs-cutting budget was approved.