Northern Ireland

NI council set to cut nearly 70 full-time jobs

Wheelie bins
Image caption Bin collections are among councils' responsibilities

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council is set to begin the process of cutting 68 full-time jobs.

In a statement, it said the action was being taken in response to the "current economic crisis arising from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic".

It said cuts to spending on capital projects, revenue spending and staffing costs had been "reluctantly agreed".

Due to part-time work and job-sharing, this could potentially impact as many as 100 workers.

A 30-day consultation period with unions representing council workers will now be entered into.

Initially, voluntary redundancies will be sought, and the council currently has 30 required vacancies, leaving the potential for redeployment.

The council said not imposing financial cuts would have meant a 25% increase in rate payments for residents in the area.

"The council is particularly concerned about how this would impact on local businesses as this would have an obvious further detrimental impact on their ability to trade through what is already an unprecedented economic crisis," it said in a statement.

It added the process could take six months to conclude.

Kieran Ellison from Unite said the council was one of Northern Ireland's "leaner councils" and it appeared there was no hope of forthcoming bailout money.

In May, the council voted to furlough more than 300 of its 650 workers, after initial confusion about whether councils would be eligible for the Treasury's Coronavirus Job Retention scheme.

In April, the council deferred a decision to cut 46 jobs.

'This isn't the news they expected'

Alan Perry of GMB Union said the consultation would begin on 21 July.

He said he believed that jobs would be cut across the board, but would mostly focus on the arts, culture, and leisure area.

"The council has put out a text message to staff and the affected staff will receive a letter in the coming days," he said.

"My phone has been red hot as you can imagine. We are now entering into a holiday period and this certainly isn't the news the majority of staff would have been expecting."

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