A FIVE-DAY council workers’ strike looks set to be called off.
Kirklees Council and trade union Unison announced last night that they had reached a deal to prevent the industrial action.
Thousands of staff – including bin men, dinner ladies and home carers – had been due to strike for five days later this month.
The stoppage would have led to widespread disruption across Huddersfield.
Eighty schools closed and 80,000 homes missed a bin collection during the last industrial action – a two-day strike in July 2008.
Unison called a fresh strike last month to fight compulsory redundancies.
But last night the union and the council announced they had reached a draft agreement which could prevent the stoppage.
Kirklees Personnel Committee and Unison’s branch committee will consider the deal at separate meetings on Friday.
If both sides ratify the agreement, the strike will be called off.
The dispute revolves around the council’s plans to reduce its workforce to deal with the public spending squeeze.
Kirklees must slash its budget by £80m over the next four years to cope with reductions in its grant from the Government.
The council is in the middle of a cost-cutting programme which will see its non-school workforce fall from 11,200 to 9,500.
More than 500 staff have already gone voluntarily but the council has refused to rule out compulsory redundancies.
Last month Kirklees Unison members voted 1,442 to 1,270 in favour of striking – a majority of 53% to 47%.
However, only 36% of union members voted in the ballot.
Unison called the strike to fight compulsory redundancies at Kirklees – and the union also opposes the council’s plan to consider sickness absences when deciding which workers should be let go.
But last night the two sides announced a compromise on the two issues.
Kirklees chief executive Adrian Lythgo said: “We have agreed that, for the period of January 1 to April 1 this year, sickness will not be part of the redundancy criteria.
“We believe that this new solution, if agreed at Personnel Committee, would be fair to our staff, fair to council taxpayers and fair to service users.
“It avoids compulsory redundancies between now and April 1.”
Mr Lythgo added: “We will be inviting the trade unions to take part in developing a new performance management system that will be used from April 1.”
Kirklees Unison branch secretary Paul Holmes said: “We have been consistent from the beginning that we wanted to see no compulsory redundancies.
“We also saw performance as the key factor in service reviews – not sickness absence – and we will now work with the council management to ensure any future reviews are fair to our members.”