COUNCIL staff could strike over the alleged mistreatment of a single employee.
A trade union with thousands of members working for Kirklees Council is pushing for industrial action after a redundancy review was delayed.
The planned stoppage could see staff including binmen, teaching assistants and home carers walking out.
Eighty schools closed and 80,000 homes missed a bin collection during the last industrial action at the council – a two-day strike in July 2008.
Kirklees is in the middle of a cuts programme which will see its non-school workforce drop from 11,200 to 9,500.
One worker, who has not been named, was given a 90-day notice of compulsory redundancy on May 16 and appealed within the seven-day deadline.
However, his appeal will not be heard until August 11 – some 87 days after his compulsory redundancy notice was issued and just three days before his contract is due to end.
Kirklees Unison branch secretary Paul Holmes criticised the council’s handling of the case.
“This is appalling. The individual concerned has done nothing wrong other than have his post deleted and volunteer for a lower graded post,” he said.
“The council currently employs hundreds of temporary and agency staff to fill the gap created by letting too many staff go.
“This is barbaric, inhuman and contrary to natural justice. Kirklees Unison members will not stand by and let this happen.”
Mr Holmes added that the union was pushing for industrial action over the issue.
“The branch has requested that the national union instigate an industrial action ballot immediately for a one, two and three-day all-out strike,” he said.
“I have no doubt our members will vote yes, particularly as they realise how badly the individual has been treated and the savings the council has made – primarily out of their pay, terms and conditions.”
The council’s director of resources David Smith criticised Unison for moving to industrial action before the worker’s review had been held.
He said yesterday: “We are extremely disappointed that there is a move towards balloting for strike action when all the internal processes have not yet been exhausted.
“We would urge Unison leaders to try again to settle this dispute through discussion rather than by depriving the public of services they rely on.”
Mr Smith added that the council’s Personnel Committee had backed the appeals process at a meeting on Monday.
He said: “The issue of whether notice periods should continue during any appeal process, or whether lodging an appeal should ‘stop the clock’ was discussed at length by the committee, and they decided the process was robust.
“The trade unions are aware of this, and that there is a process that we have to follow.”
Mr Smith added: “We will continue to work with unions to do all we can to avoid compulsory redundancies, but we have been clear all along that there will inevitably be some compulsory job losses given the scale of the financial challenge facing Kirklees.
“We appreciate the commitment that council employees have shown in sometimes difficult circumstances, but as with any major change programme there are outstanding issues which are taking some time to work through”.