COUNCIL BUDGET: Union members turn out in force

TRADES union members from across the region showed their solidarity with Swindon by turning out in force to protest ahead of last night’s council meeting.

Holding banners and placards, they stood shoulder to shoulder with residents who were there to speak out on cuts to some of the services they rely upon.

About 60 people gathered on the steps of the Civic Offices from 6pm and listened to speeches from union leaders and Labour councillors.

Extra security had been drafted in and there was a number of police officers and PCSOs present but the protests were completely peaceful. Andy Prendergast, regional organiser for the GMB union, said he believed the council was being irresponsible.

He used the example of £500,000 being spent on the communications department, which was ‘printing lots of things that people don’t read’.

He added: “We are not arguing against the need for some cuts but to make them too quickly will put the economic recovery at risk.”

Speaking on loudspeaker to the crowd he said: “We will not let the people of Swindon pay for the mistakes made by bankers and politicians.”

Karla Bradford, assistant branch secretary at Unison’s Swindon council office, said she was there because she believed the cuts would affect some of the most vulnerable people in society as well as union members.

The work hasn’t gone away and our members are expected to do more for less,” she said.

It is unacceptable in light of the efficiency savings we have already provided to the council over the last three years. We are in difficult financial times and the council has choices to make on where to spend money. But to attack the most vulnerable in society we believe is unfair and unjust.”

Members of Bath TUC were also present holding large banners.

Anthea Beaumont, a Unison member, said: “It is unfair that central government isn’t giving Swindon enough money. But the way the local council is implementing the cuts is wrong.

They spend money on WiFi and the directors are on these fantastic salaries and I just think they should axe a few of those and save a few more down the pecking order.”

From last Friday’s Swindon Advertiser

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