More than 100 people staged a noisy protest against proposed job cuts at Birmingham City Council today.
The demonstration, outside the council building in the city’s Victoria Square, came after the authority revealed it is planning to shed up to 2,000 jobs over the next financial year.
Around 120 people joined the protest which was organised to coincide with a budget meeting. Many banged drums and metal tins, and others waved banners and blew whistles.
The job losses, outlined in a financial plan published on February 10, will form part of a major cost-cutting drive.
The council said it is striving to “do more for less” in a tough economic climate, but trade union Unison has accused Tory council leaders of being politically motivated, claiming that the cuts are “totally unnecessary”.
The union said job losses would inevitably lead to service cuts which would see care homes closing and place leisure and library facilities under threat.
Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary, said: “Birmingham’s fragile economic recovery cannot take the double whammy of job and service cuts.
“Adding local government workers to the dole queues could spark a downward spiral, causing misery for families and the wider community.
“Local services are the lifeline the people of Birmingham need to get through the downturn. Local shops and businesses depend on council workers spending their money, keeping the local economy moving.”
The council said it needs to find £70 million to deal with “pressures” on services over the next financial year. As a result, between 1,500 and 2,000 funded posts are “likely” to be cut, it said.
Stephen Hughes, chief executive of the council, said: “Every effort will be made to keep compulsory redundancies at an absolute minimum. There are a host of ways that this can be done.
“Natural wastage, early retirement, voluntary redundancy and a mutually agreed reduction in working hours are just four options we have used in the past and will use again in the future.”
The authority said it was “proud” to be able to keep council tax below the national average for Birmingham residents.
Accusing the council of “bizarre economics”, Mr Prentis said: “The public need to know that the Tory-controlled council is making a political choice to push ahead with these cuts.
“These cuts are totally unnecessary and will damage services that people of Birmingham rely on.
“The council will get £30 million more in funding next year, so claims that it cannot afford to keep jobs and services running are blown out of the water.
“The council is trying to win cheap votes at our members’ expense, by keeping council tax low. This is bizarre economics, and the council need to come to their senses.”